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It all started sometime in September 1961, when I joined Hindustan Motors Ltd., then the premier automobile company of the country, as a fresh mechanical engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. Right on the first day of my training, I had to work on a turret lathe for almost the whole of the shift, as the man concerned went to attend to his ailing father without taking an official leave. Today, I feel like thanking him again and again, but I do not know his whereabouts. I don’t know if he is alive, as he was quite aged at that time itself. The trade became alluring, as I was learning every day something new. HM was investing significantly in new manufacturing facilities at that point of time. New machine tools with much high production capability were getting installed. Production was increasing. As one of the important assignment, I was involved in the switch over to indexable insert replacing the brazed tools that were in use those days. During my years in machining areas of mechanical division, I improved almost every operation that I worked on. I was responsible for producing the diesel engines of the famous ambassador cars sometime in 1970s with almost no additional capital investment. The same manufacturing lines are producing those diesel engines even today with just few additions. In 1963 itself, I gave a presentation ‘Reduce delays on setup change over’ to ‘The Institute of Production Engineers’ in Calcutta without knowing about the pioneer work on the same subject being done by Shiengo with Toyota in Japan. While working in machining areas in different positions, I kept myself updated with the contemporary technology in machining and wrote a number of articles in different magazines in 60’s and 70’s. Those were the real busy days with 16- 20 hours in factory almost every day of the week. I used to educate all the technocrats who worked for me with troubleshooting tips, that all got published in the book- “Troubleshooting Handbook-machining” by Tata-McGraw Hill, New Delhi in 1986. Thereafter, I authored “A Treatise on Gear Manufacturing” and than “Trends in Automobile Manufacturing” for engineers in industry, that were appreciated by almost everyone.

I would, with humility, admit that writing a book could never really be a solo effort just like most things in life. Before I dwell on the people whose contributions were invaluable in the making of this book, I would like to digress for a while to tell the readers my way of reaching at the latest in manufacturing techniques. As the head of production and manufacturing engineering, and


again that of corporate project planning, I used to meet many experts from different machine tools and equipment manufacturing companies. Immediately after our business talk would get over, I would invariably end up asking these experts about the latest developments and future trends in their respective areas of interest. I have always believed and still feel that such informal confabulation is a wonderful way to get to know the pulse of technological advancements in any area. Besides, I actively participated in academic activities of the Production Engineering Department of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, and Jadavpur University, Calcutta. When Shri Rakesh, my eldest son and an alumnus of IIT, Kharagpur joined Industrial Engineering Department at Purdue University, he became an invaluable source for getting more information. Many friends in industry abroad also helped me. I learnt the most from my visits to European countries and Japan where I went quite often for discussion on the manufacturing planning with the collaborators. I also visited a large number of machine tool manufacturers in these countries and interacted with their highest executives, who invariably happened to be qualified technical persons. Most of the top executives in Japanese automobile companies with whom I interacted were very successful manufacturing engineers. I was really fortunate to have been entrusted with the responsibility of General Manager- Technical Services and again as General Manager-Corporate Project Planning of Hindustan Motors where I got a lot of opportunity to get to know the various aspects of manufacturing technology in a much better way. In last few years, I also visited automobile plants in Taiwan (ROC), South Korea, Indonesia, Philippine, and Malaysia, and came to know about appropriate application of high technology in low-to- medium volume production.

Manufacturing technology and management techniques, more so the machining concepts have undergone a sea change in last four decades. This book is an attempt to present to the practicing engineers, managers, and research scholars in engineering industry and institutions the latest trends in machining and a glimpse of the future of machining.

When I started at HM, the transfer machines were the most advanced technology for high volume production. In 1965, I saw the first generation of NC machine working at Vauxhall Motors (UK), which was at that time one of the largest truck manufacturers of Europe. Over the years, the machining centers have evolved from the conventional to special ones and then to the high speed ones. Prismatic components that were produced en masse through flexible setups are now switching to agile and re-configurable facilities. Machining centers are becoming a manufacturing engineer’s choice for production volumes up to 3,00,000 per year. Today, it is possible to complete machining of an engine cylinder block or an air-conditioner compressor


housing on one single machine. Similar is the case with turning centers. Some are becoming very versatile to add all capability of machining centers besides machining processes relating to rotational axis.

To give some more examples, in 60’s crankshafts once forged were turned with form tools on multi-slide, multi-tool lathes. Over the years, the same was done using external milling, which was, again, replaced by internal milling and also by turn broaching or turn/turn broaching. In next move, it is the green grinding that is being used for the same purpose. In every area, all the developments were carried out with close cooperation between the users and machinery and equipment builders. The same was true in cutting tools also. Carbide tools replaced most of the HSS tools in machining processes. Throwaway inserts replaced brazed carbide tools. Ceramic tools are also coming up fast to replace carbides in many applications. Coatings have brought a revolutionary improvement in performance of cutting tools. Nanocoatings and diamond coating of carbide have provided new dimensions in machining productivity. There are similar stories in every area of manufacturing. I was fortunate enough to keep a track on the trends. The search for knowing machining as practiced that started sometime in 1961 is very much alive. This book is the result of the same. The trends are changing very fast. With my growing age, perhaps very soon it may not be possible to keep pace with advancements in manufacturing technology. But I am not going to give up so easily. My sons- Rakesh, Rajesh, Anand and my daughter Alpana, and then my grandson Keshav Raman who all are in USA will provide me enough water always till the last day to quench my thirst of the subject. We are trying to create a Website ( www.manufacturingtrends,com) on the subject very soon, and I promise to keep this updated regularly for those who will be interested.

How can I forget to mention some of the people who have gone on inspiring me to complete this book? My wife, Shrimati Yamuna Sharma has been and will always be the first in my list. In the last 46 years that we have been together, she has almost always managed to significantly contribute in her own sweet way in every endeavor that I undertook.

Some friends such as Shri Deshbir Singh, Managing Director of Harig Crankshafts Ltd. helped me in taking this work more seriously. Mrs. Manju Deshbir Singh, Managing Director of Harig India, Mr. S.N.Misra- President and CEO of BFW, Mr. Y.H.Tata, Managing Director of Machine Tools (India) provided the encouragement to go-ahead. Col.(Retired) Jagjit Singh and his wife, Mr. Nilmani Sinha, and Mr. Vijay Sood have gone through the manuscript and have provided a real help in making it useful. I am really obliged to all and


many others whose names are not mentioned here but without them I could not have done it.

I sincerely hope that this volume will provide my friends in the industry with all

the information in one place. The book shall also be providing a direction to researchers in national institutes to work on subjects of real importance to manufacturing industry. However, I would sincerely appreciate if the readers would fill me in on their opinion about this book, so that I can improve it in my

next updating.

I only hope that you would find it useful.

I. R. Sharma A-54, Sector-41, NOIDA 201303

Phone: 4570126, 4571554 E-mail:






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Early machine tools, Machine tools of pre-auto era, Grinding wheels and universal grinding machines, Gear manufacturing machines, Cutting tool materials, Evolution of new machine tools, Numerical control and computerized machining .



Quality characteristics of machined surfaces, General trends in machining, Emerging work materials, Machine tools-turning centers, machining centers, flexible manufacturing, agile manufacturing, Feature of advanced machine tools- main drive motors, machine spindle, ways and slide drive, Modular design concept, CNC system, Tool wear monitoring, Accuracy of machine tools, Trends in coolant application and management, Modular work holding systems, Automation.



Tool materials, Top form geometry, Hole making tools, Thread making tools and techniques, Coatings for better tool performance, Tool holding system, Tool clamping systems, Modular/ ‘quick change’ toolings.



High speed machining, Hard machining (turning), Dry machining, Near-dry machining, Near–net-shape machining. Machining difficult-to-machine materials, ‘Bulk’ machining.



Process, external cylindrical grinding, high speed grinding, creep feed grinding, high efficiency deep grinding, internal grinding, New grinding machines, Grinding wheels, New aluminum oxide abrasive wheels, CBN wheels, Single point OD grinding.



Hexapods, near net shape, new work materials, machine tools, tool materials and coatings, non-traditional machining techniques, machine controls




C-1 Cylinder Block, C-2 Cylinder Head, C-3 Crankshaft, C-4 Camshaft, C-5 Connecting Rod



General, Cutting tools, Drilling, Tapping, Milling, Turning, Grinding




1.1 John Wilkenson’s cylinder bore mill

1.2 An early lathe

1.3 J. R. Brown’ first universal milling machine, 1862

1.4 A machine shop as it looked in1890.

1.5 Charles H. Norton’s cylindrical grinder, 1900

1.6 Fellows’ gear shaping machine, 1897


2.1 Deviations in basic workpieces with design change

2.2 Time cycle reduction over years

2.3 Narrowing tolerance over last decades

2.4 Conventional horizontal front loading chucker

2.5 Co-axial horizontal turning centers and sub-spindle turning machines

2.6 An inverted vertical CNC turning chucker

2.7 A unique combination of inverted and conventional spindle orientation

2.8 A 4-axis CNC lathe with twin turret

2.9 A center drive CNC lathe for simultaneous machining at both ends

2.10 Time analysis of two kinds of machining :single spindle and ten-spindle head

2.11 A transfer line with CNC machining center modules

2.12 Agile rotary-index machining setup

2.13 Integral spindle motor design

2.14 Conventional spindle drive VS. integral spindle motor

2.15 A water-cooled spindle housing

2.16 An advance linear way design with roller bearings

2.17 Advance ball screw and roller screw

2.18 A Linear motor drive vs. a ballscrew drive

2.19 Modular concept in machine tool design

2.20 Various inaccuracies requiring regular monitoring

2.21 Tomb stone for vertical machining center

2.22 A typical quick-change fixture

2.23 Gantry load/unload system for a machining line




Relation between hardness and toughness of different tool materials


Some latest insert with optimized top form geometry


Conventional flute vs. conventional flute


Conventional vs. helical drill point


Delta, SE, and Hosoi points on carbide drills


Oil hole drills following helix of flutes vs. conventional straight oil hole


Proprietary 4-facet overlapping radius split point for steel and aluminum


Rapid feedback through bus coupling for high speed tapping.


Thrilling process- a combination of different processes


Schematic working of Tornado tool


Some typical multi-layer coatings


Hardness of selected coating materials


Equivalent toolholder sizes of HSK and V-taper


HSK toolholders and clamping system


Some alternatives to HSK toolholder for high speed machining


Different styles of toolheads for automatic clamping mechanism


Sandvik Capto- and Kennametal KM cutting heads


Modular tooling system with cutting units and adapters (left), extensions or reducers (center), and clamping units (right)


4.1 Conventional, High speed, and High velocity machining

4.2 Cutting force reduction with increasing speed

4.3 Chip formation in metal cutting

4.4 Kennametal’s cutter body for supersonic speed

4.5 Gang tooled high performance lathe

4.6 Some typical applications of hard turning


5.1 Wide and multi- wheel vs. CNC single wheel grinding

5.2 A CNC multi-surface turret type internal grinder

5.3 Another multi-surface grinding set-up for a transmission gear

5.4 Different grinding cycles

5.5 Single point grinding


6.1 Kinematics of Variax machine tool from Giddings & Lewis

6.2 A balancing system integrated on the machine tool’s spindle




Hole diagrams of a cylinder block


Some variants of head-changers


Heller’s FST system


A MAPAL multi-cut precision boring tool


A conventional honing tool with honing movement and honing effect


Hole diagrams of a typical cylinder head


A tooling to finish machine valve seat and valve guide bores


Conventional camboring tooling system


A MAPAL fine camboring system


Crankshaft milling methods


Internal crankshaft milling


Turn broaching methods


Fillet deep rolling


Shapes of main and pin bearings


Different superfinishing techniques


A 3-step centerless grinding of camshaft


Different forms of cam profiles


Multi-station belt grinding machine’s systematic layout


Impact fracture splitting fixture


Conventional method vs. fracture splitting




0 C

3-D 3-dimensional






cm 3 /min






























MIT Massachussetts Institute of Technology

mm millimeter

mm/rev millimeter per revolution

micron Degree centigrade

Alternating current Automated Guided Vehicle Computer-Aided-Design Computer-Aided-Manufacturing Cubic boron nitride cubic centimeter per minute Co-ordinate Measuring Machine Computer Numerical Control Chemical vapor deposition Direct current Distributed Numerical Control Depth of cut Electrical discharge machining Finite element analysis Finite Element Analysis General Electric High Efficiency Deep Grinding Human Machine Interface high speed machining high velocity machining Input/Output Inside diameter International Standard Organisation kilogram kilogram force per millimeter kilowatts length/diameter liter per hour Liter per minute laser-assisted machining meters per minute meters per second meter per second meter per second 2 meter/ second 2









Medium temperature chemical vapor deposition




Numerical Control


Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines


Outside Diameter


Original Equipment Manufacturer


Open Modular Architecture Controller


Plasma assisted physical vapor deposition


Personal Computer


Polycrystalline diamond


Programmable Logic Control


Physical vapor deposition



Average roughness



rockwell hardness


Rail Guided Vehicle


revolutions per minute




Silica Gel


Self Guided Vehicle


temperature- assisted machining


Tuned tooling system




Vertical machining center



Section 1


Early machine tools, Machine tools of pre-auto era, Grinding wheels and universal grinding machines, Gear manufacturing machines, Cutting tool materials, Some production machine tools, Evolution of new machine tools, Numerical control and computerized machining.

Latest Trends in Machining

Section 1


Early machine tools, machine tools of pre-auto era, grinding wheels and universal grinding machines, gear manufacturing machines, cutting tool materials, some production machine tools, evolution of new machine tools, numerical control and computerized machining.


The hand tool became a machine tool, when man first made a rigid, ground-based frame supporting bearings in which either a tool or a work-piece could be rotated on a spindle. An irregular piece of wood or metal fixed upon the spindle could be rotated and made to a perfectly circular form of any diameter by a hand-held tool. Gradually raw material got switched over to cast iron and then steel from wood that was used earlier. Crucible steel was produced in 1746 in England by Benjamin Huntsman, a maker of clocks and watches. The rolling machinery for working iron originated in Sweden during the 17 th century and was brought to England soon afterwards. Besson constructed screw cutting lathe in 1579. The machine was capable of cutting screws of different pitches by using pulleys of different sizes, either right or left hand with crossed belts. The necessity of boring of cannons resulted in the first heavy metal-cutting technology, which could later be transferred to the boring of cylinders for the reciprocating steam engine after its discovery by James Watt. In 1713, a Swiss named Maritz invented a vertical boring mill accurate enough to bore gun barrels from a solid casting. In 1758, a remarkable horizontal boring mill was produced by a Dutch gun founder, Peter Verbruggen, working with a Swiss engineer named Jacob Ziegler. Boring cylinders and turning pistons for early steam engines presented new problems. A piston during the beginnings of the age of steam engine was considered a good fit if it came within one eighth of an inch of fitting the cylinder bore everywhere. Watt’s first engine called for an 18-inch cylinder, but it took five years to successfully produce the cylinder by John Wilkenson (Fig 1.1). In1776, Watt wrote about this boring mill- “Mr. Wilkenson has improved the art of boring cylinders so that I promise upon a 72-inch cylinder being not further from absolute truth than the thickness of a thin sixpence in the worst part.”

than the thickness of a thin sixpence in the worst part.” Fig.1.1 John Wilkenson’s cylinder boring

Fig.1.1 John Wilkenson’s cylinder boring mill, 1776

By 1792, the making of screws with lathes had progressed to the factory stage. Sometime after 1800, Maudslay introduced the all-metal lathe with lead screw, change wheels and compound slide rest. In 1805, he came out with his micrometer- “Lord Chancellor” to settle all disputes over accuracy. In 1818,the copying lathe that was designed by Thomas Blanchard came into general use for turning the stocks of rifles and pistols.




The growth of the market of arms, bicycles and sewing machines led to a rapid expansion of machine tool industry. From lathes, in 1845 Stephen Fitch of Middlefield (Connecticut) designed and built the world’s first turret lathe. It had long cylindrical turret, which revolved on a horizontal axis and carried eight tools mounted on spindles, each of which could be advanced as required. The turret carriage was advanced and the feed applied by a three-armed capstan. Thus eight successive operations could be rapidly performed without stopping the machine to change tools. The logical development of the turret lathe was the fully automatic screw machine. In 1871, Edward G. Parkhurst patented collet chuck and closing mechanism for his screw machine to help it make automatic. The first completely automatic turret lathe was designed and built by Christopher Miner Spencer.

lathe was designed and built by Christopher Miner Spencer. Fig 1.2 An early Lathe, 1825 Fig.
lathe was designed and built by Christopher Miner Spencer. Fig 1.2 An early Lathe, 1825 Fig.

Fig 1.2 An early Lathe, 1825

Fig. 1.3 J.R. Brown’s first universal milling machine, 1862

Joshep R. Brown of the firm of Brown & Sharpe designed and built the first truly universal milling machine that provided solution to the twist drill manufacturing, Fig.1.3. It normally cut right-hand spirals, but Brown arranged the change gears’ train so that the machine could cut a left-hand spiral if desired. Brown is credited with many machines. He invented and built an automatic linear dividing engine for graduating rules and from it came steel rules, the vernier calipers, hand micrometers and precision gauges that provided solution for quality production. Brown also devised an improved form-milling cutter for gear cutting, and in 1855 he built a gear-cutting machine using a formed milling cutter for producing involute teeth. Brown’s cutter had segmental teeth, each of which in cross section conformed exactly to the contour of the tooth form required. The face of each tooth was ground for resharpening.


Latest Trends in Machining


In 1872, silicate wheels began being produced. A year later, a potter named Sven Pulson made a better wheel with a mixture of emery and clay, and in 1877, F. B. Norton patented the process. And again, it was Joseph Brown and his staff who removed the defects in existing grinders and came up with an improved “Universal Grinding Machine” in 1876. On this machine, the workpiece travelled past the wheel instead of the wheel traversing the workpiece. The head and tailstock units were mounted on a traversing table. Adjustment of trips at the front of the machine automatically controlled the table travel. For taper grinding, slides at the upper table could be angled by means of an adjusting screw. The guide-ways were protected from abrasive dust, and a water coolant was used. This grinder was the parent of all subsequent precision grinding machines.

Henry Leland, who had worked as foreman in the Brown & Sharpe shop, and later became the President of the Cadillac Motor Company wrote later about the grinding machine of Brown: “What I consider Mr. Brown’s greatest achievement was the Universal Grinding Machine. In developing and designing this machine he stepped out on entirely new ground and developed a machine which has enabled ”

us to harden our work first and then grind it with the utmost accuracy

These new and better grinding

machines facilitated the production of precision gauges and measuring instruments as well as accurate hardened steel cutting tools such as drills, taps, reamers and milling cutters. A machine shop looked like one shown in Fig. 1.4.

cutters. A machine shop looked like one shown in Fig. 1.4. Fig. 1.4 A machine shop

Fig. 1.4 A machine shop as it looked in 1890

By 1891, an American, Edward G. Acheson, produced a synthetic abrasive of controlled quality by fusing a mixture of carbon and clay in an electric arc furnace. Crystals (silicon carbide) produced were of a hardness then surpassed only by diamonds. Acheson called his synthetic material carborundum. Another American, Charles B. Jacobs, in 1897 produced another synthetic abrasive by fusing aluminum oxide (bauxite) with small quantities of coke and iron borings and called it alundum. Charles H. Norton secured the rights to this product and became the man responsible for the production grinding machine (Fig. 1.5) and better abrasive wheels. First, Norton invented a machine for dynamically balancing grinding wheels to make them perfectly balanced. Norton also improved the processes of



dressing and truing the grinding wheel. Norton then redesigned the Brown & Sharpe Universal Grinding Machine improving the bearings. By building a heavier, stronger grinding machine, and by using much wider wheels, Norton conceived the technique of plunge grinding. This new grinder was not only applicable to plain grinding but also made possible form grinding by the use of wheels shaped to the contours desired. In 1903, Charles Norton produced a crankshaft journal grinding machine. A wide wheel was capable of grinding a journal to finished diameter in a single plunge cut.

The cycle time of the operation was reduced to 15 minutes, which previously took five hours of turning, filing and polishing. Henry Ford ordered 35 of these machines for his new Model T production plant. Norton is also credited with incorporating its own micrometer in the grinding machine to reduce the workpiece by precisely the desired amount-say 0.00025 of an inch.

by precisely the desired amount-say 0.00025 of an inch. Fig.1.5 Charles H. Norton’s cylindrical grinder, 1900

Fig.1.5 Charles H. Norton’s cylindrical grinder, 1900


Gear mathematics developed through several centuries without having much practical effect on the way mechanics actually cut gears. Edward Sang produced a treatise in Edinburgh in 1852 that ultimately laid the groundwork for the generating type of gear cutting.

By 1867, William Sellers had exhibited a milling machine gear cutter in which the sequence of automatic motions was so controlled by stops that the cutter could not advance unless and until the gear blank had been correctly indexed for the next tooth. When all the teeth had been cut, the machine stopped automatically. Then the molding generating cutter was devised. Instead of indexing the gear blank, the cutter and the gear blank were given synchronous motions, so that the two were correctly meshed together. In 1880, Ambrose Swasey developed one machine that operated on the “describing- generating” method for Pratt & Whitney.

“describing- generating” method for Pratt & Whitney. Fig.1.6 Fellow’s gear shaping machine, 1897 In 1884, Huge

Fig.1.6 Fellow’s gear shaping machine, 1897

In 1884, Huge Bilgram of Philadelphia came out with a gear shaper working on the molding generating principle to make small bevel gears for the chainless bicycle. In 1898, James E. Gleason invented a machine that generated bevel gears by using a rotary cutter and a combination of motions- rotary, swinging of the cutter carrier, and lateral. Gleason’s


Latest Trends in Machining

machine was fully automatic that provided the manufacturing solution to bevel gearing used in differential drive. The most advanced gear cutting machine of the molding generating type was Fellows’ gear shaper of 1897 (Fig.1.6) that was invented just in time to produce gears that would be needed for automobiles. Edwin Fellows designed the teeth of his cutter in such a way that one cutter could be used to make gears of any diameter provided the pitch was the same. The only qualification was that its teeth must be of the specific helix angle the cutter was designed to produce. To make hardened cutters for his shaping machine, Fellows created another machine.

Hobbing was the last to come. The first attempt to cut gears by using a worm with teeth on it was made perhaps by Ramsden in England in 1766. In 1835, Josheph Whitworth produced a machine that would hob spiral gears. But the hobber did not become practical until Pfauter, working in Germany built a machine with a cutter axis that was not at 90 0 to the gear axis. There were many problems in developing the process, but by 1909, there were at least 24 firms manufacturing gear-hobbing machines.


Robert Mushet first produced the improved tool steel in 1868 in England. That proved to be far superior to carbon steel used for tool earlier. With this new tool steel, John Fowler & Co. of Leeds turned iron shafts in the lathe at the rate of 75 feet per minute, and when machining steel wheels in their boring mill they could make roughing cuts 1/2 inch deep. Frederick W. Taylor (1856-1915) is credited with the revolutionary research on cutting tool materials. In 1900 Paris Exhibition, Taylor amazed the visitors with chips peeling away at blue heat from an American lathe while the tip of the cutting tool was red hot.

Taylor was the first to carry out methodical experiments with cutting tools that lasted over 26 years and cost over $ 200,000 - a large R&D expenditure for the time. Mushet’s steel contained 7% tungsten, 2% carbon and 2.5% manganese. Taylor with Maunsel White in the Bethlehem Steel Works discovered that chromium was an effective substitute for manganese used to give the steel self-hardening character, while giving better performance. They then increased both the chromium and tungsten (the tungsten to 14%) and added silicon, which was found to increase shock resistance. They found that if a tool is heated to 2000 0 F (just below fusion point) instead of 1550 0 F, cutting speed would be increased to 80 to 90 feet per minute (as against 30 feet per minute in earlier case) before failure occurred in the same time. Addition of 0.7% vanadium produced further improvement.

But with this radically improved new cutting material, all the existing machine tools were to become obsolete. As proof of this, the Ludwig Loewe Company, A.G., a reputable German machine-tool builder, tested the new steel tools in one of their lathes and drilling machines, running them so as to give maximum performance. In four weeks both machines were reduced to junk! Main drive spindles were twisted; thrust bearings were destroyed; keys fell out of gears and shafts; cast gears were broken and the lubrication systems proved inadequate. Taylor had not only given the machine designer a new tool but also the specifications by which its performance could be translated into terms of tool pressure, speed and feed. Cemented tungsten carbide was first produced by Krupps of Essen, Germany in 1926. After the Leipzig Fair in 1928, where the carbide tool was demonstrated under working conditions, it was an instant sensation. The introduction of tungsten carbide tools resulted in second machine tool revolution. this new cutting tool material also made possible the new machining technique offine boring. In Germany, ernst Krause used tungsten carbide to bore iron cylinders. He patented his process, which was adopted by the motor industry supplanting the planetary grinding machine that was used before it.




In 1903, A. B. Landis patented an automatic magazine feed release for short cylindrical parts enabled efficient production grinding of connecting-rod pins. L.R.Heim obtained his patent for the centreless grinding principle in 1915. In 1922, Cincinnati Milling Machine Co. acquired Heim’s invention and introduced its first production centerless grinder. The machine gained immediate acceptance in the automobile industry, where its 20in. diameter wheel was used to grind shoulder work like push rods and valve tappets. By 1925, automobile valve stems were being finish ground on centerless machines at the rate of 350 an hour. It was necessary to plunge cut and retract the regulating wheel to release the workpiece. In 1905, both Norton Co. and Landis Tool Co. offered specialized grinding machines for automobile crankshafts that eliminated torsion in the shaft by mounting the work on two live heads, counterbalanced by the journal bearings.

A.B. Landis brought out his 1912 camshaft grinder that provided automatic feed from one cam to the next on a shaft. Master camshafts were geared to the workpiece and were larger than the workpiece, thus reducing error. Norton also developed the camshaft grinder at about the same time. The machine enabled engine designers to specify one-piece camshafts of hardened alloy steel instead of having to build up these controlling mechanisms from individually ground pieces.

Broaching as production technique though probably dated back to Englishman Josheph Whitworth was redeveloped in 1873 by Anson P. Stephens in America for its present potential in automobile industry. In 1898, John N. Lapointe obtained the patent for pull-broaching which was till date being done by pushing the serrated tool through a hole in the workpiece that was severely limited by the physical strength of the broach under compression. In 1918, special form-grinding machines for broach production were developed, and the first hydraulic broaching machine was produced in 1921. Later, in 1934 external or surface broaching was introduced.

The automakers made strong impact on machine tools. With cut in assembly time for Model T from a day and a half to an hour and a half, it was realized no machine shop could supply components that fast. E.P.Bullard Jr set about designing a new machine for multi-station manufacture. When it was ready, Bullard headed for Detroit, and arranged for an appointment with Ford. Seated beside Ford was C. Harold Wills, chief of car design and factory operations. The two men listened attentively to Bullard, but, when they both expressed their skepticism, the machine-tool builder unleashed his strongest argument. “ Mr. Ford,” said Bullard, “How long does it take you to make a flywheel?” “Eighteen minutes,” was the reply. Wills nodded. “Will you test our machine if I guarantee to cut that down to two minutes?” Bullard asked. Ford smiled, “Cut our time in half, and we’ll do business.” The first Bullard Mult-Au-Matic to arrive at the Ford factory in Highland Park was subjected to a test run that lasted 54 days and nights. Finished flywheels were taken off the machine at intervals of just over a minute.


The history of manufacturing was marked by the development of mass production first in the automotive industry and was followed by the improvements in machine tools and cutting tools, and the introduction of new and better materials with which to manufacture the cars and other consumer goods. By early 1920s machine tool builders competed fiercely with one another in bringing out machines of higher production capacity, especially for the auto industry. The methods of transmitting power to machine tools were


Latest Trends in Machining

constantly improving. Helical gears for connecting parallel shafts were used more and more to provide smooth transmission. Special steels and heat-treated gears were common, hardened-and-ground gears were gaining favour where greater accuracy was required. The use of motor drives and of ball bearings and a growing trend toward hydraulic instead of mechanical transmissions were the outstanding developments in machine tools of the 1920s. Centralized control became popular and, in several types of machines, it was possible to shift speed instantaneously, without stopping the machines, through a combination brake-clutch. By 1927, another definite trend toward single-purpose equipment of so-called manufacturing type and away from machine of a more universal naturebecame noticeable. The design of the single purpose machine was such that only a few key parts needed to be interchanged to make the machine adaptable to a wide variety of works.

The interesting involvement of changes of equipment during a model change will be clear from the details of work done during a changeover from Model T to Model A by Ford in 1927. To do it, the company spent nearly $ 10 million for the purchase of 4500 new machine tools and alteration of 15,000 more. Preparing to make the new rear axle alone necessitated construction of an entire group of machine tools. Some 160 gear-generating machines were completely rebuilt, $3000 each, to produce two gears for the new rear-axle assembly. Ford introduced a new V-8 model ($460-$650) to replace the Model A in 1932 and became the first company to use a cast alloy-steel crankshaft in place of a forging.

World War II put a stop to car industry, as most of the plants were requisitioned to produce war machinery and equipment. After the War, many automakers were in bad shape. But the effort of rebuilding the industry started with a new zeal and many new technological strategy evolved for the manufacturing of ‘The Machine that Changed the World’. It is evident from activities such as setting up of an Automation Department in Ford in 1946 that devoted to making equipment operate at its maximum rate (which usually can not be done without automatic loading and unloading) and to making work safer by eliminating hand loading of presses. By Oct.21, 1948, Automation Department had approved more than 500 devices, costing $3 million, that were expected to increase production by 20% and to eliminate 1,000 jobs. Most of the early work was on presses and included sheet feeders, extractors, turnover devices, stackers, loaders, unloaders, etc.

Next automation project related to the machining line for engine block, where automation meant mechanical handling of blocks in, out, and between machines. Morris automobile plant in Coventry, England in 1924 used a new approach to automation. A number of standard machines were attached to a continuous, 13.8m long bed to perform 53 operations on engine blocks. The machine had a total of 81 electric motors. In 1929, Graham Paige installed in its cylinder department a system of operations that included automatic jigs and fixtures with transfer bars to move work from machine to machine; all the basic elements of the modern transfer machine were present in the system.With increased automation for higher production came the increasingly specialized machinery for manufacturing processes.


Shortly after World War II, John T. Parsons envisioned the use of mathematical data to actuate a machine tool. An electronic control system for machine tools was developed with the US Air Force funded program. The first commercial production based NC unit was built by Bendix Corp. and was produced in 1954 for machine tools introduced in 1955. By 1957, Barnes Drill Co. built a drilling



machine with four parallel horizontal drilling spindles that moved on vertical ways to bring the desired spindle into position, and only that spindle would then feed. In 1958, Hughes Aircraft and Kearney & Trecker worked together to develop a flexible automatic line comprising of three machines: one each for milling, drilling (and tapping), and boring. The three machines were tied together by handling equipment, and the whole system was under tape control. called a Digitape that was developed by Hughes aircraft. The entire line was called the Milwaukee-Matic Model I. In December 1958, a NC horizontal spindle multifunction machine ‘Milwaukee-Matic II’ was introduced. The machine was capable of automatically changing cutting tools in its spindle. The first numerically controlled machine or machining center was born to make the beginning of the second industrial revolution. In 1960, the first controller with transistor technology was introduced. Integrated circuits (ICs) came in 1967 that permitted a 90% reduction in the number of components, as well as an 80% reduction in writing of program. NC and then CNC have contributed immensely in changing the manufacturing practices in last decades.

Today, even in automobile industry, dedicated machine tools are no more the preference. Flexibility for quick engineering/model change without any stoppage is becoming the basic demand from the manufacturing system. Computerized manufacturing provides the answer.

Update 25.01.2001


Latest Trends in Machining

Section 2


Q uality characteristics in machining, General trends in machining,Eemerging work materials, Machine tools-turning centers, machining centers, flexible manufacturing, agile manufacturing, Feature of advanced machine tools- main drive motors, spindles, linear motors; Modular design concept, CNC. , Tool condition monitoring, Accuracy of machine tools, Coolant management,Modular work holding systems, Automation.


Section 2


Quality characteristics in machining, General trends in machining,Eemerging work materials, Machine tools-turning centers, machining centers, flexible manufacturing, agile manufacturing, Feature of advanced machine tools- main drive motors, spindles, linear motors; Modular design concept, CNC., Tool condition monitoring, Accuracy of machine tools, Coolant management,Modular work holding systems, Automation.

Machining is a major manufacturing process in engineering industry. Performance of the product to a large extent is dependent on the accuracy and consistency of the machining processes used to produce the parts.

Machining constitutes, generally both cutting and abrasive processes that are mostly complimentary. Traditionally, metal cutting processes were used for bulk metal removal and were followed by abrasive machining processes for finishing. Again, for hardened parts abrasive machining processes were the only methods to machine to the specifications . Abrasive machining is still more precise process and normally applied for closer tolerance. However, with new cutting tool materials and better machine tools, hard turning/boring now is getting established as precision machining process eliminating grinding as finishing process. Machining covers a number of processes for cylindrical external surfaces, hole making, flat surfaces, or special surfaces as for gear teeth, thread, cams, etc.

Machining Process

Rotational External Surfaces

Hole Marking

Flat Surfaces

Metal Cutting

Turning Hard turning Turn-broaching Milling- external & internal Boring Broaching

Drilling-Twist, Indexable-insert drill Core drilling Gun drilling Reamin

Milling Surface broaching


External grinding Centreless grinding Abrasive belt grinding Super-finishing

Internal grinding Honing Flat super-finishing

Surface grinding Disc grinding


Chip-less machining through the cold displacement of metal is frequently used in finishing of soft materials. External diameters, radii, bores of components are rolled, burnished or bearingized for achieving very tight dimensional tolerance or very smooth surface finish. Rolling provides certain additional advantages in production of threads, splines, and fine pitch gears.

Tolerance ranges for size, geometricity, surface finish, and surface integrity of various processes are different (Annexure-B). Tighter tolerances require finish processes of better process


Latest Trends in Machining

capability. The tolerance range of some of the competing processes may overlap, as the capability of a machining process can be enhanced with special monitoring and slowing of speed of operation in number of cases. Relative cost increases, as tolerances become finer. Evaluation of all possible options of machining processes is necessary to reach at the optimum combination of the processing steps. Conventionally, abrasive machining are resorted to achieve the superior tolerances of size and surface finish, or to machine extra hard components not possible to be machined by cutting processes, or because some unique condition of the subject component e.g. shape or size does not make metal cutting feasible or economical. Process planning and tolerance at different stages have become critical to achieve the tighter tolerances demanded by the product designers during manufacturing.

Cutting parameters in machining-speed, feed and depth of cut (DOC) are to be the maximum to reduce the cycle time. Cutting parameters are dependent on machine tools, work-holding, cutting tool materials and their capability to withstand the heat generation and shock loading during the cutting, tool rigidity, and coolant. Tool size and tool holding methods determine the tool rigidity. Cutting fluid provides cooling of the interface of work-piece and cutting edge and facilitates flushing chips away from the work-piece. Tool life is another important consideration in machining that demands careful attention. Trend is to achieve a tool life that provides the minimum cost per part machined by the tool.

Machining processes have some basic limitations that are to be given due consideration at planning stages and also are the subject matters of latest researches to improve the processes:

Heat generation in cutting that results in poor tool life and distortion of the work- piece

High cutting force in bulk metal removal that necessitates sufficient work holding force that itself distorts the work-piece.

Undesirable cold working and residual stresses in the work-piece that often necessitate further processing to remove the harmful effects.

Chip generation that sometimes causes difficulty of chip removal, disposal and / or recycling.


Machined parts are defined by four quality characteristics: size, geometric, surface texture, and surface integrity.

Size tolerances are becoming tighter for interchangeability, automatic assembly, consistent performance, improved safety, energy conservation, weight and noise reduction, emission control, extended life.

Geometric characteristics are defined by flatness, roundness, straightness, perpendicularity, parallelism, concentricity, symmetry, surface- and line profile, run out, etc. Tolerances of geometric characteristics are also becoming tighter, as geometric inaccuracy causes higher specific load resulting in faster wear,



MACHINING - LATEST TRENDS unsatisfactory operation, efficiency loss or wrong fit, problem of interchangeability. As a

unsatisfactory operation, efficiency loss or wrong fit, problem of interchangeability. As a thumb rule, the maximum value of geometric tolerance is 30-40% or lower of dimensional tolerance. The lower is the geometric error; the better will be the functional quality.

Surface finish relates to roughness, waviness, lay, and flaw of a machined surface. Surface finish affects material fatigue strength, corrosion resistance, sealing performance, friction, lubrication, force distribution, etc. Sometimes, the surface textures have to be engineered and produced to provide functional surface characteristics, e.g. plateau honing.

Surface integrity is the description and control of many possible alterations produced in a surface layer during machining process, including their effects on the material properties and the performance of the surface in service. Selection and control of machining processes are of vital importance in obtaining the desired surface integrity.


Maximum metal removal rate with optimum cutting parameters - speed, feed, and depth of cut (DOC).

Single setup for rough and finish machining. Systems withstand the heavy roughing cuts on raw stock and also allow the precision finishing operation in same setup.

Production of near-net-shaped components through improvement in basic forming processes of forging, and casting thereby reducing the amount of material removal or eliminating the need for the machining of certain surfaces.

Multiple-operation machine tools carry out all machining operations on a part on one machine tool in one/two loading without taking it off to carry out additional operations on separate machine tools and reduce the number of work stations for completing the part.

Improved accuracy of traditional roughing process such as turning to replace grinding, or improved drilling to eliminate hollow mill or reaming. Simultaneously, traditional finishing process such as grinding is being used for high metal removal with high speed or creep feed.

Hard cutting of parts up to R c 65 and above to eliminate some abrasive machining operations.

Effective cooling of tool-work interface with mechanical design or flood cooling and high pressure, high volume coolant application.

Effective coolant-management to abide by environmental legislation when cutting fluids an in use.


Latest Trends in Machining

Dry machining with no or minimal coolant for reduced cost.

Reduction of all non-cutting times to minimum level. Virtually maintenance free or self- maintainable system.

Just-in-time production for minimum inventory cost, reduced manufacturing lead time, better delivery performance, lesser space requirement with improved delivered quality.

Minimum setup changes-over time for better machine utilization for processing of multiple parts.

24-hour working (preferably untended) because of increasing cost of capital investment.

Built-in better process capability eliminating inspection and to meet demanding accuracy of parts

Quick-change systems for tooling: tools, jigs and fixtures.

Optimum automation level in loading/unloading, tool change, and inspection, to eliminate or reduce human influence on efficiency.

Increased life of wearable parts, tools etc. to reduce loss time for replacement keeping consideration of added cost.

Inventory reduction of tools and other accessories through standardization.

Total safe operation for men and equipment.

Improved uptime through total productive maintenance.

With improved capability of manufacturing, parts are becoming complex to reduce number of parts in assembly and to ensure built-in quality.

With high speed machining system, bulk machining to produce component from raw material such as billet.

Concurrent process engineering reduces development time even for complicated parts.

The most significant advances in machining are in how machine tools are used in manufacturing process, rather than how they cut metal.

Major objectives for manufacturing engineering today are different. Major emphasis is on low-volume and large-variety, even in high volume production industry to face global competition. Flexibility is also required to use the same facility for the minor or major model changes that come in effective life span of the equipment. Basic work-piece may change in different manners as shown in Fig. 2.1, demanding flexibility in its manufacture.



MACHINING - LATEST TRENDS Fig. 2.1 Deviations in basic work-pieces with design change Time cycle over

Fig. 2.1 Deviations in basic work-pieces with design change

Time cycle over the years have reduced (Fig 2.2) and have made the equipment free to do some extra work to justify the return on investment. Once the equipment is expected to be flexible to handle more types of components, two other factors must be fully appreciated - firstly the increase in investment due to flexibility and then the effectiveness of flexibility. While the increase in investment to ensure flexibility must be the minimum, the effectiveness of flexibility must be real. Production loss for changeover must be minimal. Change-over process should not influence the expected life of the equipment and the quality of output after every change. It has been observed that sometimes the flexible equipment turn out to be the most inflexible one when it is put in actual use, if not properly planned.

5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 - Year 30 40 50 60
Time, minutes

Fig.2.2 Time cycle reduction over years

In last decade, improvements and innovations in all the areas have been significant. The processing has become faster. The quality is better. Fig 2.3 shows the narrowing of tolerances over last five decades. Unit cost has been gradually reduced. It will be interesting to document some of them for the benefits of those concerned with machining in manufacturing industry.


Latest Trends in Machining


? Year 1940 50 60 70 80 200 Tolerances mm 0.030 0.013 0.005 0.002
Year 1940
Tolerances mm

Fig. 2.3 The narrowing of tolerance over last decades


Traditional materials and processes are undergoing major changes to face the challenge and to provide manufacturing assistance to industry’ goals of quality, cost and delivery. Automotive, aerospace, and defense industries are the leaders in development of these materials. Automobile manufacturers are searching for materials that will make vehicle lighter and thus make it more fuel- efficient. A 10% mass reduction yields a 6-8% increase in fuel economy.

Nodular iron casting (e.g. crankshaft, connecting rods, camshafts, knuckles, etc.) and powder compacting/ sintering (e.g. oil pump gears, crankshaft/ camshaft sprockets) are replacing steel forging. Nodular cast irons offer higher strength and toughness because of spherical inclusions of carbon in metal matrix. Gray cast irons are still widely used for engine blocks, brake disks, brake drums, and housings. The controlled foundry processes now produce these parts more accurately with very thin walls with significant reduction in overall weight and machining allowance. Modified cast irons with high carbon content or inclusions of niobium carbides are being tried for parts such as brake disks to face the competition from alternate work-piece materials. Compacted cast irons with graphite shaped like coral provide higher toughness and are in use for parts such as cylinder blocks of diesel engines or other truck components. Compacted cast irons are also 30% lighter than gray irons. Innovations in the basic manufacturing processes of casting and forging are aiming to develop the capability to produce near- net- shape parts, which will cut down the material stock for machining to minimum.

Aluminum: A significant trend in automotive industry is the increasing use of aluminum alloys. Aluminum provides about 50% weight reduction over cast iron. Aluminum engine blocks, in one case, weigh 21.3kg, where a similar cast iron block would weigh 39.5kg. Iron castings are getting switched to aluminum. Passenger car cylinder heads, transmission cases, clutch housings; cylinder blocks are now aluminum die-castings. The earlier disadvantages of aluminum castings such as higher scrap rates due to micro cracks and porosity have been overcome with new innovations in casting methods. Lost–foam process developed by Saturn Division of General Motors was one such innovation. The process takes polystyrene beads about the size of table salt, expands them, and blows them into molds. It creates foam parts, then glue the foam components together to form complex patterns. The



polystyrene pattern forms an exact replica of the finished casting. To create the final casting, the patterns are glued in a cluster, and are coated with a refractory wash. Sand is filled around the pattern, and then molten metal is poured into the assembly. The foam shapes melt, leaving behind an accurate casting. With lost foam process, the dimensional control is excellent. It is possible to incorporate accessory brackets. Oil feed passages can be left as cast in blocks without requiring special long drilling operation as done in cast iron blocks. Feed passages need not remain only straight and, if required, can be cast crooked. As reported, for one model of aluminum cylinder block and cylinder head of passenger car engine, the lost foam casting process eliminated over 4.3 meters of drilled holes. Cast passages equal to over 0.45 cubic meter did not require any machining in each engine. Many surfaces with this process rarely need more than one- pass machining.

Metal compression forming is another innovation, developed by Thompson Aluminum Casting (Cleveland, USA) to deal with porosity in aluminum castings. Metal compression forming process eliminates micro-cracking and cavitation problems, which earlier required forging. The metal compression forming process allows metal to flow slowly into a mold at relatively low pressures. The amount of trapped gas in the molten metal normally causes cavities in the final part. Application of low pressure minimizes the amount of trapped gas. Uniform pressure on all portions of casting makes the part resistant to cracking, which was not possible with traditionally used squeeze casting.

Aluminum also enables significantly extended tool life. As reported from Saturn study, tools on the machining line for aluminum parts last five to ten times longer than tools used for machining gray cast iron. Milling cutters last 50,000 to 100,000 cycles. Finishing cutters last 200,000 cycles. Carbide drills make 35,000 holes before requiring sharpening. Boring tools can last more than 500,000 cycles between insert changes. In some cases, the tooling was not changed at all for past eight years of operation.

Aluminum Metal Matrix composites (MMC) are another new materials being developed for automotive application because of weight advantage. Brake rotors made of aluminum MMC may weigh less than half of cast iron brake rotor. MMC also offer high yield strength, good ultimate strength, and excellent high temperature properties.

Magnesium will be the next to capture a larger number of applications in automotive manufacturing because of weight and strength considerations. With densities just 66% that of aluminum and 22% that of steel, magnesium alloys offer a potential for significant weight reduction. For example, magnesium 380mm wheel rims weigh just 2.7 kg against 5.4kg rims in use. In another case, an engine control module would actually be lighter with magnesium than the present plastic ones. A new process called thixo-molding will eliminate much of the machining required now for components produced by die- casting. Thixo-molding resembles plastic injection molding. Magnesium pellets are fed through an injector into an induction heater. After the pellets melt, the system forces the liquid into a mold cavity. The process yields a near-net-shape part requiring very little or no machining before assembly.

Along with these advantages, the machining of different materials also presents certain unique problems due to the inherent characteristics. Cast iron is easy to machine, but produces dust that is harmful for machine tools. Nodular cast iron is a little more difficult to machine in specific composition. Cutting tools are required to be of better grade. Deterioration of tool life may be another disadvantage. Nodular cast irons with higher ferrite content produce built-up edge, whereas nodular irons with


Latest Trends in Machining

higher pearlite content result in rapid insert wear. Compacted cast irons are 5-20% slower on the same machining facility. Aluminum is softer to machine but chips are gummy. Even high performance ceramics can not be used because of the chemical instability of the tool material at the high cutting temperature generated during the process. Similarly, the major issue affecting broader use of magnesium alloys is the relatively low ignition temperature (650 0 C) of their chips, requiring very fast removal of chips, equipping machine tools with fire extinguishers, etc. Some trade-off becomes essential.

Requirements of the aerospace industry have also made significant contribution in developing the next generation of work-piece materials. While weight reduction was always the issue, other factors such as corrosion resistance, high fatigue strength and temperature resistance also required attention. Heat resistant materials such as Inconel and other Ti-alloys are used for parts like rotors and disks. These material are difficult to machine. Manufacturing trends are to machine some parts from solid blocks instead of joining components. Example is the machining of the disk and blades of a turbine as an integral unit. Some airframe components are also being machined out of solid Ti-alloy blocks (discussed in detail in ‘high speed machining’ and ‘bulk machining’ in Section 4).

Industry will be increasingly switching over to exotic, composite, engineered, honeycomb, and sandwich materials to reduce weight, cost and manufacturing requirements. New materials under development will offer improved performance characteristics, such as greater wear, temperature, or corrosion resistance in specific applications.

Another very significant innovation is that of functional gradient materials that are composed of metals and other materials. One of the main objectives for developing these high breed materials is for producing near net shapes eliminating thereby or reducing the machining requirements. The functional gradient approach also allows variations in concentration of alloys from point to point along the part to achieve specific properties, such as wear resistance or higher compression strengths required at different locations. However, the new materials may also present new challenges for machining. Machining must move to fast track to meet the challenge.


NC/CNC in machine tools has made the revolutionary transformation in manufacturing. Individual machines changed from single purpose to multiple function equipment with capability to do a wide range of tasks such as milling, drilling, reaming, boring, turning etc. Turning centers and machining centers can cover major machining tasks for any part. Parts requiring machining are generally rotationally symmetrical- disc type or shaft type, prismatic ones, or combination of the two mentioned earlier. While turning centers are the choice for rotationally symmetrical parts, machining centers are universal preference for flexible machining of prismatic parts. In one engineering company manufacturing machine tools, earlier it took five machining processes on five separate machine tools to produce one part. Now it takes about three processes, and in many cases, all three can be done on a single machine tool. The plant was producing 800 different kind of parts per month on 81 machine tools and equipment. Now it is producing 1400 different kind of parts on 61 machines. The throughput time has been reduced by 50%.



Turning centers

Conventional two-axis turning machines are still most popular. However, multifunction turning centers in single or multiple spindle configurations provide the optimum machining solutions for multiple operations on rotational parts. With extra turning spindles, live spindles on turret/s, controlled spindle speed making drilling, milling, and even grinding possible, lathes have become turning centers. The turning machines may incorporate chuck, or chuck and center, or bar feeding system with or without center at tailstock.

60% of turned parts are chucked parts. A chucker holds the shorter work-piece by one end. Rotationally symmetrical-disc type components generally require two/three setups to complete parts on both sides. Turning chuckers with twin spindle configurations, in horizontal or vertical versions today perform all machining on both sides of the parts, which used to take two or more machines. Two parts can be machined at a time, or simultaneously machining on Side A and Side B of the same part can be carried out. New trends of near-net-shape components are making these machines more popular. Conventionally, horizontal front loading chuckers, Fig.2.4 are preferred for components such as hubs, gear blanks, differential cage, etc. up to 200 mm diameter; whereas vertical ones are used for heavier components such as flywheels that provided the benefit of gravity to keep the work in chuck. Gantry loaders are preferred for horizontal front loading chuckers to assist the loading, unloading as well as turnover functions. Latest in two-spindle turning technologies is co-axial horizontal turning centers and subspindle turning machines (Fig 2.5).

Fig.2.4 Conventional horizontal front loading chucker

1. Two-spindle horizontal turning centers: Right side spindle is coaxial with an equally powered left side spindle. Right side spindle directly picks the workpiece from the left side spindle. Normally two turrets - one for each spindle- completes the simultaneous machining for both the spindles. Parts with equal or near equal machining at both ends and that involve rotary tooling for milling and cross drilling for operations are better suited for these machines.

2. Sub-spindle turning machines are equipped with a second spindle of a fraction of the capacity of the main spindle. The sub-spindle picks up the workpiece from the main spindle. These machines may


Latest Trends in Machining

have one to three tool turrets as well as variety of other tooling arrangements besides turrets. Sub- spindle NC turning machines are the choice if one end of the part is markedly less complex than the other, which is quite often the case. The trend in sub-spindle machine design is towards sub- spindle with nearly half the power of the main spindle. An average improvement of machining time of sub-spindle machines over conventional two set up turning is perhaps 20-30%. Set up time improvement over two separate NC lathes is of the order of 30-40%.

Advanced control synchronizes the second spindle to the first extremely close to permit non-round shapes to be transferred between spindles at high rpm. The control also supplies the right torque and pressure from the second spindle to the part held in the first spindle to achieve the part transfer without undue load on the first spindle.

Upper turret Main spindle Lower turret Subspindle
Upper turret
Main spindle
Lower turret




Fig. 2.5 Co-axial horizontal turning centers and subspindle turning machines

Very lately, a new generation of inverted vertical turning chuckers has appeared. It is suitable for parts of 200-500 mm diameter such as rotors, hubs, drums and gears for high volume production. The mobile integral motor spindles grips the workpiece from above and the clamping force resists not only the centrifugal and cutting forces, but also gravity. Inverted verticals eliminate a loader and pick up and unload the part from and to the conveyor directly. Work transfer speed from the pickup point to the starting of machining is typically not more than five seconds which is generally 15 to 20 sec. for gantry work-transfer. Chips in inverted verticals fall away from the work and down in chip conveyor rather than on to the rotating table and work-piece as in traditional vertical chuckers. Fig. 2.6 shows an inverted vertical chucker.

Fig. 2.6 An Inverted vertical CNC turning chucker











Fig 2.7 A unique combination of inverted and conventional spindle orientation

Fig.2.7 shows a vertical twin-spindle machine that uses a unique combination of an inverted spindle in the first operation position and a conventionally oriented spindle in the second operation position. Many configurations of two-operation setups for small round work-pieces are commercially available from different manufacturers. With high speed CNC turning centers/machines, multi-spindle machine is becoming out of fashion even for very high production. Form tools are replaced by single point tools that generate all forms, and steps. Special inserts are required only for threading and grooving.

inserts are required only for threading and grooving. Fig.2.8 A 4-axis CNC Lathe with Twin-turret For

Fig.2.8 A 4-axis CNC Lathe with Twin-turret

For longer shaft type work-pieces, a center type turning center holds the work-piece between the headstock and the tailstock. Different types of work-holding equipment are in use. For odd shape components, such as knuckle (axle arm) of front suspension system of car/trucks, special work-holding fixtures are mounted on headstock side. Shaft with sufficient bearing face on ends, may be machined in one setup with a holding by face-driver and tailstock center. Four-axis turning centers are becoming increasingly attractive in industry. The machines have two turrets. Each moves independently of the other on its own set of cross slides.


Latest Trends in Machining

Tools on 4-axis CNC twin-turret machine both sides simultaneously and reduce the machining time as shown in Fig. 2.8. CNC center-drive lathe as shown in Fig 2.9 provides another machine configuration for simultaneous machining from both ends for shaft-type parts.

Turning centers today can perform virtually every machining operation including thread rolling, burnishing, back face machining, and even cylindrical grinding. With addition of powered tools in turret and controlled work-spindle rotation axis, secondary operations such as milling, drilling, pocket milling, and key milling etc. can be planned in same setup. The machines can turn, mill, drill and tap parallel to and perpendicular to the spindle axis. Lesser setups automatically improve the quality.

Multitasking turning results in many advantages such as reduced setups, reduced tooling and fixturing, increased work-piece accuracy, and most importantly an even throughput. By moving the machine’s cutting operations around the work-piece, rather than moving the work-piece around the shop to various machines for different operations, crucial work-piece datum’s are not lost. Reduced work- piece handling also means reduced work-piece marring. As a major technical trend, the turning machines have evolved to a point where they may be called machining center with turning capability. One machine tool does as many operations that formerly required a five-axis machining center and several turning machines.

Multitasking which used to fit well in lower to medium volume part runs, is moving to even some higher volume applications with high speed machining and chip-to-chip tool-change times.

Fig. 2.9 A center-drive CNC lathe for simulaneous machining at both ends

Parts are getting more and more complex as designers try to combine components that were formerly an assembly into a single piece for better built-in quality. Some part configurations tend to combine rotationally symmetrical and prismatic surfaces. On some new turning centers, round and prismatic surfaces requiring both radial and axial machining can be processed with one work holding, and can be completed without requiring other machine. In addition to the traditional X- and Z- axes, the turning centers today may incorporate a rotary C-axis, an Y-axis (which allows the cross-slide to come in and do off-center work), and recently a B-axis which permits tilting the turret or the tool to the work. Some manufacturers have come out with lathes having ATC (automatic tool changer) that carry more than 100 tools. The main objective is to bring a complete part off the machine rather than going through multiple setups and multiple operations on multiple machine tools.

High speed turning: Most applications today do not require turning centers to run at more than about 6000 rpm. With excessive centrifugal forces at higher speeds, safety becomes the main consideration. In one case, while machining a small brass part at 4000 rpm, the part flew off a chuck and got embedded into nearby steel structure. Even with well-designed



counter-balanced high-speed chucks, machine covers are to be built strong enough to meet eventuality. However, the trend is towards increasing the spindle speed for better productivity. Hard turning, near-net-shape turning, and diamond turning of aluminum components such as pistons are pushing up the turning speeds. High speed turning generates high heat. High-pressure coolant can keep the cutting surface cool and clean from chips. However, high-pressure coolant tends to wash away most of chuck lubrication during machining, and also forces chips and dirt down into the moving parts of the chuck. A completely sealed maintenance-free chuck provides the right answer. Another trend is to incorporate quick-change jaws for easy set up switch over from one part to another.

Accuracy of turning operations is improving because of multiple innovations by machine manufacturers. Different probes at key locations on the machine develop a thermal map and the information is used for compensation. Machine’s stiffness has improved with different materials and designs that provide damping effect and greatly reduce vibration. The change also improves surface finish, and so also the

tool life significantly. Today, a total tolerance of 25 microns and less is easily achievable. In one case,

a turning center achieved spindle speed as high as 20,000 rpm with a 4.5-sec acceleration and 3-sec

deceleration. The machine’s cycle time was as much as three times faster than those of other lathes.

Surface finishes improved by 37% and the tool life increased by 30%. The lathe used liquid-cooled ball screws for 0.00003 mm programmable resolution and 0.000005 mm feedback resolution.

With new CNC turning machines, finish turning eliminates down-stream operations like grinding. In one case, the tolerance of 0.003 mm is achieved with a process capability, Cpk at 2. In another case, a manufacturer today finish-turns the faces of the brake discs with very high cutting speed (around 1000 m/ min) using high performance tools. Earlier, the brake disc faces were ground after the turning. The switch over has produced significantly improved results. Process capability, C pk value for surface finish specification (0.4 - 2 Ra) is more than 1.67 and the time cycle varies between 1.50 ~ 1.75 minutes depending on disc size. The grinding of the faces is eliminated completely and so also the high capital requirement for the grindingmachine.

Machining centers

Machining centers in vertical and horizontal configurations are becoming the universal choice for prismatic components for every volume of production. As a general rule, horizontal machines are the choice for boxy parts, while vertical machines are preferred for flat workpieces. On vertical machines, the work-piece is

secured to the machine bed and the cutting thrust is directly transferred to the machine bed. In a horizontal machine, the chip removal is easier and the machining for various faces in single setup is possible even with simple fixture. Horizontal machines are more versatile. However, these preferences are totally application- based. The philosophy behind the machining centers is to machine the part completely or as much as possible in the minimum number of setups. Even for complicated part design, two or three setups are good enough to complete all machining operations. Universal machining centers with larger tool capacity and 4

– 5 or more axes of movements of worktable or machine spindle remain the preference for one-off or small batch production.

High part cost resulting with the use of the universal machining centers for large batch production has been the reason for abandoning them for volume production. Machining centers for large volume application are faster, lighter, simpler, and cheaper. Fixed table or twin pallet machining centers are preferred to be integrated with material handling system to form a high production line. Many


Latest Trends in Machining

new machining centers are able to hit 20,000rpm spindle speeds or more with slide feed rates as high as 80 to 100 m/min. Feed rates up to 40 m/min. with rolling guides and 36 m/min with sliding guides are quite practical. The preference of aluminum over cast iron for automotive parts have made high speed machining centers a practical proposition to replace conventional transfer machines. Additionally, non- cutting time for the high speed machining centers in high production application are kept minimum, as many of these prismatic parts in automotive industry require a succession of drilling, boring, reaming, and tapping operations on five or six sides of the workpiece. So tool-change time, pallet changing or indexing times, besides rapid traverse rates are critical. Chiron’s high speed machining center used for high production change tools in 0.55 second, index the pallet in 2.0 seconds, and have top rapid traverse rate of 60m/min.

With these high-speed machining centers, the selection of manufacturing systems is undergoing a total change. Machining centers are entering the high production facilities of automotive plant that were earlier the domain of only dedicated transfer machines with special purpose unit heads that perform total machining on a part in sequence with automated work handling in between. The traditional transfer lines are highly expensive. In case of failure in market prediction regarding volume, the investment may be disastrous for a company, as the transfer lines demand a minimum volume of production for a number of years for getting the required return on investment that is made much before even the first part is produced. Even in day–to-day operation, transfer line requires a lot of blocked work-in-process inventory. Additionally, any minor breakdown in system stops the assembly and holds the assembly. Traditional transfer line is economical only with a production of 150,000 to 200,000 parts per year and above. Present trends of changing customer demands, competition, fast innovations requiring changes in product and in turn, in parts do not justify the use of dedicated equipment or lines. High-speed machining centers have brought CNC flexibility with transfer line level of speed at much lower investment on equipment and engineering. In an ideal case, the production may be started with just one machining center to carry out all operation and then to buy more machines as production requirements increase.

Present trend is to start with a manufacturing cell- a group of minimum number of the high speed machining centers that machine all features. Breakdown of one of the machining centers does not affect the assembly significantly. The cell may include automatic work handling or the work handling may get added later with higher level of production. Similarly, the hydraulic or vacuum type fixtures may replace standard manual tombstone type fixtures used for initial production. As the production picks up, the cell can be expanded or multiplied. At a level of say, 200000 per annum, dedicated machining line may take over, if found economical by that time. At that stage, the cell/s can either jack up the productivity of the dedicated line, if required or switch over to some other part. If the machining centers in the cell have been of the modular design, it can become part of the transfer line. Auto manufacturers are today learning to break a production requirement of even 400,000parts/year requiring expensive and inflexible transfer lines into four cells of 100,000 parts/year each. With high speed machining centers, even machining processes such as surface grinding and honing are being integrated on the same machine.

In a Ford plant, a line with high speed machining centers provides the same output as a flexible transfer line at about two-thirds of the total investment. Ford engineers reduced floor-to-floor production time for precision machining of clutch housings by 60%. The substantial shorter changeover times give a decided advantage to Ford when it comes to model change. Most of these machines are modular and easy to move in and out to and from their locations as and when required. Analysis of the multi-spindle machines used in the conventional lines proves that 85% of machines have a head with 10 or fewer spindles and 96% of hole-diameters are 10 mm or less. Fig. 2.10 provides a comparison of capability of these ‘drill and tap’ machining centers (rapid traverse 48 m/min., spindle speed 10,000 rpm, and chip-



to-chip time of 2.5 sec) with multi-spindle heads for a part of aluminum AC 4B.

A machine tool manufacturers with experience in automobile industry believes optimal production for high

speed machining centers is about 1200-1500 cylinder heads and about 1500-1800 gearbox housing per

day in two shifts. In specific applications, many methods are being used to cut down the non-cutting time

in production setup to improve upon the cycle time to increase production. One of the methods may be the

combination tools engineered for specific features or special tool such as thriller (Please see under heading “hole making tool” for details) that can perform in a single operation what usually calls for a drill, chamfering tool, and tap or thread mill. While reducing the number of tools, it eliminates tool change between operations together with improved quality in many cases. Thriller tools are extensively used in threading operations on aluminum and cast iron engine and transmission parts.

O.10.2×M12 O 15×M6 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
O 15×M6
(Sec)(machining time)

Hole pitch : 100mm

Line of cycle time with ten-spindle head

Number of the holes to be machined

Fig. 2.10 Time analysis of two kinds of machining: single spindle and ten-spindle head

Flexible manufacturing

Flexibility requirements have almost made the application of traditional inline transfer lines obsolete. Incorporation of NC-controlled feed units, multi-axis NC-units, swiveling drilling heads, sometimes head changers, flexible design of work transfer pallets provides a lot of flexibility in present generation of transfer line to be called rightly as flexible transfer. The idea of using even high speed machining center modules for flexible transfer line in the auto industry has become quite popular. Transfer system may be similar to traditional transfer lines, power and free conveyor, or conventional electromechanical one such as lift and carry system used in high production line. Fig. 2.11 shows a schematic layout of one such flexible transfer line. For lesser flexibility required by high production line, a trend is to strip machine tools of redundant features to trim prices by 30 to 50 %. Some simply reduce the number of control axes, cheaper controllers, and/or tool magazine’s capacity. Designers throughout the machine tool industry are working hard to make these high-tech machines cost competitive with conventional machines. Systems used for high production machining may be:

Sequential machining on three-axis modular production-type machining centers with limited tool-changer capacity (say, 6 to 24), and dedicated hydraulic fixtures. Units can also be installed as wing bases on a dial index machine. In another setup, units can be positioned close together to form a transfer machine. Appropriate machines - heavier machining centers for milling operations; lighter and high speed ones for drilling, and reaming; a tapping center for fast tapping; a very precision unit for close tolerance boring; may constitute the machining line. The part moves ahead in sequence passing through all the machining stations.


Latest Trends in Machining

Latest Trends in Machining Fig.2.11 A flexible transfer line with CNC machining center modules. • Asequential

Fig.2.11 A flexible transfer line with CNC machining center modules.

Asequential machining features identical CNC machining centers with a larger tool-changer capacity, each of which can do all machining operations for each part assigned to the cell, including milling, drilling, boring, counter-boring, and tapping. The system takes care of a machine-breakdown easily. The system may start with minimum number of machines, and grows with addition of machines as the production increases. The part moves as programmed to different work stations depending on real time situation.

Agile manufacturing

A switchover from flexible manufacturing to agile manufacturing system is becoming a necessity.Itprovides the unlimited scope of changeover over the limited scope of change in flexible









Fig. 2.12 Agile rotary - index machining setup



manufacturing. Instead of building something that anticipates a defined range of requirements based

on ten or twelve contingencies in flexible manufacturing, the emphasis by an agile system is to build something that can be deconstructed and reconstructed as needed. Fig. 2.12 shows a system where

the production is ramped up to maximum gradually and then ramped down. The system uses high

speed, small-envelope CNC machining center modules with 15,000 spindle rpm. Each module weighs 800 kg, Other features are; X- Y- Z- travel of 200, 150, and 250 mm, 9-tool automatic tool changer with 1.8sec chip-to-chip time, and positional accuracy of +/- 0.005 mm and repeatability of +/- 0.002 mm.

Ramping up process:

1 machine for sample parts, original tooling Add 1 machine, duplicate tooling, begin production Add 2 machines, ramp up production. Switch over to one dial index with 6 modules (change time 40 minutes) on 5 meters circumference Add more index machines and go up to desired production capacity.(half a million/year)

Ramping down process System goes to 2 shifts from 3 of 50 hours a week Then to 40 hours a week Then moves from index to a 3 machine cell Next move to a one-machine operation where product life ends.

All the machine tools for medium to high production are being designed with built-in agility as a

necessary feature. For example, the totally self-contained electrical and power units are designed with a ‘single plug’ system. Even a precision machine today is moved with a forklift truck, and then with a few connections and leveling, it gets ready for production. Agility does not compromise stability.


Manufacturers have improved all the mechanical and electrical components of the-state-of-the-art machine tools. The most daunting challenge is how to make a machine with both low inertia in its moving members and the structural stiffness to resist falling prey to the increased propensity for

vibration that comes along with ever increasing high speed. Various design features relate to improving upon the basic problems such as friction and vibration. Some address them through compensation,

but they are also some who have addressed very rightly the causes as close to the sources of the

problems as possible. It is all these advances together that have led to a tenfold increase in rotational speeds and chip removal rates compared with conventional spindles.

Main Drive Motor


asynchronous induction spindle motors using vector control have eliminated the drawbacks of


brush-less motor. The motor has maximum torque at any speed. Moreover, the vector control


Latest Trends in Machining

provides both position and current feed back in real time. DC brush-less motor with permanent magnet rotor becomes the next choice for high-speed spindle drive in modern machines. Advantage is the high torque at lower speeds required for large diameter tools. Direct current brushless motors do not develop as much heat as comparable ac motors, but are larger, more costly and has speed limitations. The trend now is for an in-line or integral motor. With the in-line motor, the spindle and motor are a single package with the motor shaft coupled directly to the spindle shaft. In the latest technology, the motor has become integral part of the spindle (Fig.2.13). The rotor wraps around the spindle shaft and the stator is in the spindle housing wall. Solid state converters with variable frequencies and voltages drive these motors. AC induction motors are almost exclusively used for high-speed applications. The AC motors permit an effective change of field. Some use speed-range switching to extend the constant power range by reconnecting the windings. Others use low and high-speed windings to give more than one operating range. For the communication of data between the controller and the drive, the latest serial real-time communication system (SERCOS) is used replacing old +/-10 V analog standard with a digital fiber-optic-based alternative and advantages of noise immunity, elimination of wiring, and high speed. Recent drive technology enhancements have permitted a variety of direct drive motors for a machine tool’s servo axes and spindles. Direct drive motors (Fig.2.14) eliminate mechanical interfaces and result in faster, more dynamic machine tools that require less overall maintenance. Advances in drive power electronics, feed-back devices and control algorithms have dramatically increased spindle speed and power ratings. New control algorithms coupled with permanent magnet motors allows to create main spindle designs that can deliver higher torque for a given spindle volume and that also at lower bearing operating temperatures with extended life and reliability. Machine tool builders today select both the drive hardware and the motor type most appropriate for a particular machine.

the motor type most appropriate for a particular machine. Fig. 2.13 Integral spindle motor design Machine

Fig. 2.13 Integral spindle motor design

Machine Spindle

Spindle rigidity depends on the shaft’s stiffness, and the number, arrangement, and stiffness of the bearings that are optimized by computerized analyses. High-speed spindles may use taper roller, or angular contact ball bearings. Angular-contact bearings are the most commonly used and provideprecision, load carrying capacity (both axial and radial), and the speed needed. The contact angle in angular- contact bearings is the nominal angle between the ball-to-race contact line and a plane through the ball centers, perpendicular to the bearing axis. Contact angle decides the ratio of axial to radial



loading capacity. The lower the contact angles the greater the radial load-carrying capacity. The higher the contact angles, the higher the axial load carrying capacity. Spindle with bearings of a contact angle of 25 degrees will be preferred for drilling, while a contact angle of 15 degrees makes

the spindle a better choice for milling. Magnitude of preloading will be the another important factor for selection. Light preloaded bearings allow maximum speed and less stiffness, and are often used for very high-speed applications with light cutting load. Heavy preloading allows less speed, but higher stiffness. One to three sets of the angular contact bearings commonly support each end of the spindle shaft- with two or three bearings placed

near the spindle nose and a pair mounted near the rear end. Method of mounting of these bearings is another important aspect. Back-to-back mounting results in correct preload and is considered as most suited for good accuracy and rigidity. Face-to-face mounting though not very common, does provide preloading in which the bearing pair withstands both axial and radial loading. Considerations of thermal growth at high speed, which causes the spindle shaft to grow in length, must be made. It is often necessary to mount the rear spindle bearings in a floating housings with springs to provide a constant preloading force against the spindle shaft in the axial direction.

Pulley Beltes Spindle Conventional Spindle drive motor Integral spindle / motor Spindle Fig. 2.14 Conventional
Spindle drive
Integral spindle / motor
Fig. 2.14 Conventional spindle drive vs.
integral spindle motor

Lower speed spindle still uses steel balls in bearings lubricated with grease. At about 12,000rpm, the problems related to amplification of residual forces in the whole spindle assembly start getting critical. For spindles in the 15,000rpm range and above, hybrid bearings with ceramic (silicon nitride) balls and steel races provide the solution. Advantages are very significant:

Because of the manufacturing process used, the ceramic balls are rounder than steel and are less inclined to deform in operation.

Ceramics balls are about 60% lighter than steel, and allow up to a 50% increase in spindle shaft speed. Because of lower mass, ceramic balls are not as influenced by the centrifugal effect.

Ceramic balls do not react with the steel raceways. The microscopic “cold welding” common with steel balls does not occur. It results in significant longer bearing life.

With low heat retention, the high breed bearings have longer service life. As the expansion is negligible, operating accuracy is greater and chance of seizing is minimal.

Inertia is also lower and skidding during high acceleration and deceleration in high speed machining applications is less in operations, which require frequent tool change.

Vibration levels are lower. Test shows that the spindles with hybrid bearings exhibit higher rigidity and have higher natural frequencies, making them less sensitive to vibration.

frequencies, making them less sensitive to vibration. Users are demanding both high power as well as

Users are demanding both high power as well as high rpm. Taking the combination of power and speed to higher levels is challenging because of higher cost and manufacturing difficulties of these (design is no constraint) spindles. Every surface- external as well as internal- needs to be absolutely


Latest Trends in Machining

round, and the balancing must be perfect. As reported, one manufacturer of 40/40 (that delivers 40,000rpm and 40kW power) spindle took three months to produce the shaft of the required accuracy. The next generation of spindle 50/50 may require all ceramic (including the races) bearings.

Non-contact bearings using air, hydraulic fluid, or electromagnetism to support the spindle shaft are also in use with many advantages:

Non-contact bearings eliminate friction between surfaces, and can outlast the spindle motor itself. In ball bearings, it is this friction that causes the bearing to wear out faster than other spindle components.

With the absence of surface-to-surface contact, contamination that would shorten the life of a ball bearing may have no effect at all on a non-contact bearing.

Non-contact bearings deliver an equalizing force to the shaft, which can hold it much closer to its centerline, so it means reduced runout for the spindle, unlike the runout of a spindle caused by the mechanical tolerances of the bearing components.

Table below shows advantages and limitations of the three types of non-contact bearings:

Type of

Air bearings

Hydraulic fluid bearings

Magnetic bearings



Air pressure supports the spindle shaft

The spindle shaft rotates on a film of oil.

The spindle shaft is supported by a dynamic, software- controlled magnetic field.


Superior runout char- acteristics make ma- chining with delicate tools more practical. Tiny holes can be drilled to an L/D ratio of well over 10 with- out breaking the tool. Low runout and high speeds make the mill- ing with small tools an effective alterna- tive to EDM for deep or intricate features.

Stiffness, vibration damping. Used as a multi-purpose bearing. At high speeds, it permits low runout with long bearing life. Simultaneously, the bearing delivers more stiff- ness than a conventional spindle bearing, keeping the freedom to take heavier, slower cuts. Also offers superior vibration damping over a conventional bearing

Speed and low runout. Abil- ity to use delicate milling and drilling tools at high speeds is comparable to that of air bearings Stiffness: is digitally con- trolled. The magnetic field can be modeled to offer stiff- ness comparable to a ball bearing. Simplicity: electrical power cre- ates the force supporting the shaft, so do not require a sepa- rate system to deliver air or hy- draulic fluid.


Low stiffness makes it best suited for the light- est cuts only.

Viscosity losses.A relatively large portion of the motor power must be devoted to overcoming the resistance of the hydraulic fluid. It also re- quires better cooling, as the losses from the resistance translate to excess heat.

Expensive compared to other non-contact bearings



Some manufacturers are developing a combination hydrostatic/hydrodynamic bearing where a film of fluid does the work of hard rolling elements. For relatively small spindle, it has been possible to reach a spindle speed in excess of 100,000rpm with air bearings. Magnetic bearing has also been successfully applied in a number of milling applications. Potential of high ability to adaptively control the spindle characteristics through real time modulation of the magnetic field will go in favor of magnetic bearings.

Fig. 2.15 A water cooled spindle housing

Fig. 2.15 A water cooled spindle housing

Spindle lubrication and Cooling:

Effective lubricants used today may be:

new synthetic grease that retain stiffness over a wider temperature range or air/oil combination. Some specially designed grease has millions of “micro-fibers” that act like wicks to draw oil from the grease to the metal surfaces of the bearings. However, for high-speed application, grease has its drawbacks. Lubrication systems may be Oil-Mist, Oil-Air, Oil-Jet,

or pulsed-oil-Air. For spindles above 10,000rpm, an air and oil metering system provides minimal (but sufficient) lubrication to the bearings to generate less heat, where an air flow provides the added benefit of carrying heat away. At 12,000 to 20,000rpm or more, the quantity and placement of the lubricant are extremely critical. Too much of oil may create race distortion in case of ceramic bearings. In oil/air lubrication system, excess oil is sucked out of the spindle housing to prevent over lubrication.

The high-speed spindle is additionally cooled by flowing water through jackets on the spindle housing, Fig 2.15. One or more circuits are used for cooling. Separate circuits are necessary for thermal expansion control because the motor and bearings heat at different rates. Water temperature for cooling is maintained with an accuracy of ±1 0 C.

Ways and slide drives: Finite element analysis, simulation and other CAD techniques have helped tremendously to optimize the mechanical design of machine tools. The optimized weight and size of castings and the location of webs, ribs and bosses in the machine structure have improved rigidity and vibration characteristics of machine tools. Use of damping materials in specific areas in the vibration path to absorb the resonant frequencies or use of cast minerals and other composite materials have further improved the damping characteristics in machine structure. Some machine manufacturers have also used polymer castings that offer excellent thermal stability. Due to lower thermal conductivity, they tend to maintain their shape longer and can be used to minimize thermal distortions in critical areas such as scale mounting surfaces.

Three types of ways in use are- plain sliding box-ways, linear ways with rolling element, and slide-way with hydrostatic bearing. Over years, box-ways have improved because of the use of glued Teflon- impregnated sheet type materials such as TURCITE and RULON that greatly reduce amount of scraping and reduce friction. Manufacturers in Germany have used another epoxy based replication materials such as Moglice and SKC that can be injected into the gap. The material cures as a perfect copy of the guide while the slide is in perfect alignment. The process eliminates the need for the scraping process and results in high dynamic stiffness in machine elements necessary to achieve fine surface


Latest Trends in Machining

finishes. Box ways have better damping characteristics at low spindle speeds and feed rates, but have limitations for high speed operation and exhibit “stick-slip”. In complex machining on materials such as cast iron with lot of shock loads, the box way may work better.

Linear ways with rolling elements have low friction, exhibit lower heat build up, require smaller drive motors, are capable of high speeds and work well when rapid and short stroke positioning is required. Stick slip is virtually eliminated. Linear guides allow for higher rapid traverse rates (up to 40m/min) and faster axis acceleration and deceleration required in most of the machine tools today. Most linear ways today have slides with channels for balls or rollers (Fig.2.16). While roller bearing is rugged, provides more surface contact, and has less elastic deformation, the ball bearings version is preferred because of their better compliance to misalignment. An improved version of a ball guide is claimed to exceed the rigidity of roller guides, even after maintaining the precision and speed capability of ball guide. Bearing stiffness is a major consideration because of its importance in maintaining accuracy. Preloaded bearings can have greater stiffness than box ways because the latter need some clearance to allow for oil film development. Newly developed hybrid linear guides even offer better damping capabilities. With latest improvements in both types of slide ways, linear guides can be a good solution for high speed, low force application, while box ways may be a requirement for high force applications.

box ways may be a requirement for high force applications. Fig.2.16 An advanced linear way design

Fig.2.16 An advanced linear way design with roller bearings

Latest trend is for hydrostatic bearings. With fluid films between slide and way, there is no metal-to- metal contact, no friction to build up heat or cause wear. They provide a high dynamic stiffness and have better damping than rolling-element bearings. The problem regarding the complexity of compensating for flow in operation has been solved. Dr. Alex Slocum of MIT designed a type of self- compensating bearing called “Hydroguide”, which has been commercialized by Devitt Machinery Co. of USA. The bearing switches flow as load increases to maintain a uniform gap between slide and rail. When load is applied at one end of the slide, flow is restricted to the bearing pad in that area. So, more fluid flows to the pad on the opposite side and opposite end of the slide compensating for the load. One of the most advanced ideas combine a slide and way made of alumina ceramic and a gap compensated, water-based hydrostatic bearings. The design provides submicron accuracy and has minimal thermal problems for very high performance applications.

Feed motors: Key features for positioning motors are acceleration, deceleration, smoothness, and accuracy so that the slide gets to where it is needed quickly. Technically called a dc brushless, and more commonly known as an ac servo, are used as the positioning motors. These permanent magnet motors are easier to control because of the more defined relation between current in windings and torque produced. Encoders and resolvers along with modern sensors help in achieving the positional accuracy.



Ball-screws: Traditionally ball-screws (Fig. 2.17) drive the feed axes in most of the modern machine tools. The number of balls, that are having surface contact and the ball diameter, decide the stiffness. The maximum rpm, torque, thrust capacity of the ball-screw depends on its diameter, pitch and length. As the mass of the ball-screw increases with its length, the acceleration is limited and stiffness decreases. Machine manufacturers are addressing thermal growth in ball screws by different methods of estimating and compensating for thermal growth. In one approach to dissipate heat is by passing refrigerated ethylene glycol as cooling agent through the gun-drilled hole in the ball-screw. Linear glass scales or even laser scales are in use to take care of the problem of the thermal growth. It can work reliably up to 1g for horizontal slides. If a motor and the system power something that is faster, the machine tool would start to erode structurally. Structural and tool vibrations would not be able to produce a quality part. In some high-speed applications, the

forces tend to destroy the ball return races. At higher speed longer shafts begin to whip causing a deterioration of performance. A design in which the shaft remains stationary and the drive motor is incorporated into the nut may solve the problem. Ideally a ball screw should have a low preload when it starts to move and high preload when the machine is cutting. A bearing manufacturer claim to provide a design with electronically adjustable preload to attain the best performance. For more precise applications, two types of roller designs- planetary or re-circulating (Fig. 2.17) are challenging the traditional ballscrew in use. In the planetary version, cylindrical threaded rollers in the nut ride around the central shaft like gears in a planetary transmission. In the re-circulating design, threaded rollers are disengaged and re- engaged as the nut turns and pushed forward by a cam in the nut. After one rotation inside the nut, a roller moves ahead one thread lead axially. As the rotation continues, cams re-engage the rollers back to their ‘starting point’. Both these designs are capable of taking loads three times that of a comparable ball screw. Stiffness is about 50% greater. The planetary version is suited to high-speed applications, and is three times faster than a ball screw and can handle acceleration up to 3.5 g.

Recirculating ballscrew

can handle acceleration up to 3.5 g. Recirculating ballscrew Roller screw-recirculating type Roller screw-planetary type

Roller screw-recirculating type

g. Recirculating ballscrew Roller screw-recirculating type Roller screw-planetary type Fig. 2.17 Advance ball screw and

Roller screw-planetary type

Fig. 2.17 Advance ball screw and roller screw

Traditional ball screw drive with Rotary Motors: Traditionally, a rotary motor drives the linear axes into straight line through a ball screw.Asmall high-speed motor through a transmission produces higher torque at low speed. The system has certain clear disadvantages in high-speed applications:


Latest Trends in Machining

1. Rotary motors have limitations on maximum rotation speed.

2. Rotary motor drive systems comprise more than 20 parts that add inertia and cause lower efficiency

3. Motor couplings produce wind-up distortion, backlash, and hysteresis.

4. Encoder couplings deflect during acceleration and deceleration

5. Backlash in a ball screw drive train limits the amount of gain that can be used to control axis position (‘Gain’ is a measure of responsiveness of control.).

6. The ball screw’s stiffness and maximum rotational speed diminish as length increases. This characteristic limits the feed rate available to machines with longer travel.

7. With wears, continual adjustments are essential to ensure ongoing accuracy.

Ball screw with Direct Drive rotary motors: As the axis drive is through a rigidly coupled motor, the system improves machine accuracy because of elimination of errors caused by transmission components. Feed back devices for direct drive motors are very accurate. Stick slip (a condition in which moving a load over very small distances can not be done accurately) is almost eliminated, as the transmission components that bring high friction and high compliance are missing. High stiffness between motor and slide load removes mechanical resonance. Faster servo response and greater resistance to torque disturbances are additional advantages. However, the direct drive motors are costlier.

Axis drive with Linear motors: Linear motors are the latest technology for slide drives. The motors combine the functions of ballscrew, motor, and slide. A linear motor is basically a rotary motor that

has been rolled out flat. The motor contains a laminated steel structure with conductors wound in transverse slots; and is mounted to a rigid plate, which is supported by a pair of linear bearings. The magnets are usually attached to the machine structure, which generally serves as the motor body ( Fig

2.18 ). During operation, the magnetic field developed by the changing current in the motor conductors

interacts with permanent magnetic field, thus developing thrust. Slides may be brushless or brush-type. The brushless contains Hall-effect sensors and solid-state switches to provide communication information to the drive system. The brush type carries dual brush sets that pick up power from copper rails and transfer power to the conductors under the slider. No-contact designs are possible, making a linear motor almost maintenance free. With no coupling, no transmission, and no ball screw, linear motor provides excellent acceleration and deceleration rates. Use of linear motors as the main drive technology is already established in high-speed machines in preference to traditional rotary motor and ball screws for moving the

slides. Fig. 2.18 shows layouts of a linear motor drive vs. a ballscrew drive. Advantages of linear motors over rotary motors are:

1. The linear motor provides direct drive to slides. There is no backlash and little compliance between the motor and load.

2. Force is generated through an air gap. Linear motor requires almost no metal-to-metal contact between moving parts, that result in reduced wear and vibration, and almost no maintenance.

3. The linear motor consists of few components- only one moving part, and no mechanical linkages; and requires little lubrication. It ensures long life and clean operation.



4. Speeds of less than 1 micron/sec, or as high as 5 m/sec are easily reached. The linear drive system offers constant velocity characteristics.

5. Smaller linear motors can easily deliver more than 10g, while conventional motors typically generate acceleration in the range of 1g.

6. The accuracy of linear motor is only limited by feedback resolution, and can be as high as 3 to 5 microns.

7. Linear motors cause a low force and velocity ripple and deliver smooth motion profiles.

8. Multiple linear motors can be assembled back to back to provide increased force compatibility.

9. Additional magnet plates can be added to provide virtually unlimited travel (limited by length of feed back device and cables) with no loss of precision.

Linear motors lets the machine position, interpolate, and contour more accurately at high feed rate, and are already incorporated in a number of high speed machining centers from different manufacturers in USA, Germany, and Japan. However, there are certain very clear disadvantages also with linear motors:

1. As a linear motor has direct connection to machine structure, heat transfer to the machine is also direct. Cooling is to be effective to minimize heat-caused dimensional changes. Cooling system for the machine is comparatively costlier.

2. Linear motors provide no way to exchange speed for the thrust unlike a rotary motor that can be coupled with a different gearbox for higher torque. In practice, a machine meant for only finishing work lacks flexibility to go for slower machining with heavy cut.

3. The strong magnetic fields generated when linear motors are activated, attract ferrous metals and particles. Sealed magnet tracks, slide covers and other features will be necessary to minimize the dangers of contamination. Housekeeping and cleanliness must be kept all the time to a very high standard.

4. Bases must be heavier than required for traditional drive systems to counter the high acceleration and dampen unwanted vibrations.

Rapid developments are being made to take care of the disadvantages of linear motors. The benefits of linear motors are far more attractive for this latest technology to get its due place. Compared to traditional machining, the increase in cutting speed is about five times. Excessive following error of traditional systems limit their speed, whereas linear systems using feed-forward control can decrease the effective following error by over 200 times. It results in real high speed machining while maintaining a higher precision. A performance comparison of conventional drive system with linear motors is shown in table below:


Conventional- ball screw/rotary motor

Linear motor

Maximum speed, m/s


2.0. typical

Maximum acceleration, g



Static stiffness, kgf /mm



Dynamic stiffness, kgf /mm



Settling time, ms



Maximum force, N


9000N (per/coil)

Reliability, hours




Latest Trends in Machining

A lot of research is going in to develop high performance ball-screw systems also to match linear motors

acceleration in some cases. Two ballscrews in stead of one has been used to boost accaleration and deceleration rates.However, today ball-screw systems are available with specifications from 0.1g to 1.4g, whereas linear motors typically accelerate at rates of 1g to 2g. In both the technologies, the main problem

is the necessity of effective core cooling. If linear motors are not core cooled effectively, the bed and

column are badly affected, deteriorating thereby static alignments and volumetric accuracies. Without proper ball-screw cooling, thermal displacement causes serious linear growth of the screw. Some

manufacturers have already used linear motors in high production machining centers, while some still

show preference for ball-screws with very strong reasons. Perhaps the application becomes the most important selection criterion. Particularly applications using large diameter drilling and heavy cutting

in milling may require higher thrust levels than linear motors might be able to provide. The highest

possible acceleration rates would not only be unnecessary, but would also compromise the thrust and rigidity required. Low speed ball-screws are optimal for application with low feed

rates or low level of spindle utilization. There is a clear overlap in performances between the two technologies. Acceleration rates and achievable thrust of high-performance ball-screw systems match linear motors in some cases. However, the leading edge technology currently is the use of linear motors to drive axis movement.

Linear motion Slide way
Linear motion
Slide way

Linear motor


Magnet strip


Digital interface

Linear motor

Slide Mechanical drive Digital interface Gearbos Spindle Slide Feed speed control
Mechanical drive
Digital interface Gearbos
Feed speed


Direct measuring device 2. Velocity of moving part over time


Digital control

4. Torque controlled motor



Fig 2.18 A linear motor drive vs. a ballscrew drive


All major manufacturers are tending to

incorporate modular design concept in their machine tools, based on the combinability

of the individual modules. These modules

can be produced, assembled, and checked independently and without relation to

specific requirements. The final assembly

of the customer specific machine tool from

selected modules does not take much time and can be performed at short notice. At any later time based on customer requirements, a contemporary module may replace any of the modules. The modular design concept further makes the machine tool easily adaptable to model change of the product of the end users. Fig 2.18 shows the modular concept of machine tool design.



Wing base assemblies Angular Horizontal

Feed units Column Column assembly Work table
Feed units
Column assembly
Work table

Angle adoptor


Horizontal angle adoptor

Work table Angle adoptor Base Horizontal angle adoptor Feed unit Wing base Fig. 2.19 Modular concept

Feed unit

Wing base

Fig. 2.19 Modular concept in machine tool design


A CNC system has the NC kernel at its center. The NC kernel processes the NC part program and

controls positioning of the machine axes. The NC kernel also interfaces to the three main subsystems of the CNC that are PLC (programmable logic control), HMI (Human machine interface) and the drives. Either all these functions may be located in the same hardware processor or depending on the demand of the machine tool, each function is delegated to an additional processor. A high performance machine today is preferred with separate processors for the CNC and each of the subsystems, so that an additional hardware may be added with each additional axis to ensure fast update times in the drive control loops. A control system manufacturer normally provides the total system. However, the machine manufacturer today likes

to have the openness of the NC kernel, as he may require hardware or software components from different

suppliers. It may be for using a third party motor with certain specific characteristics, or for adding a new

machine-specific function into the NC kernel.

PLC provides the physical interface to machine I/O and the associated interface control function. Besides digital I/O, PLCs also offer analog I/O and the use of function modules for specialized tasks. In recent years the incorporation of factory I/O networks such as PROFIBUS greatly increases OEM’s choice of I/

O hardware and devices and helps the manufacturer in designing a device to his own specifications.

HMI: Incorporation of separate, PC-based hardware platforms for HMI, along with modular software techniques and nonproprietary development tools have provided the openness to integrate machine tools

of all types into a manufacturer production system. The only product sourced from a CNC supplier for the

HMI today may be the communication protocol used to realize the CNC/HMI interface. Intelligent networks, facilitated by integrating standardized software modules and Ethernet, offer manufacturers today a consistent

solution with a uniform data acquisition platform- one that transcends location or production sector, and can unite various CNC controls, programming workstations and tool-setting equipment.With this networking, the data transfer rate has been accelerated to the point where even a large program, which used to take hours to transfer via serial interfaces, can now be transmitted to a machine in seconds. By incorporating a modern interface card and the corresponding software, a remote access to the diagnostics of a CNC


Latest Trends in Machining

machine can be achieved. With remote diagnostics, the technician at the machine tool builder’s headquarter can go online with the CNC to diagnose problems in real time, determine a corrective course of action, and send the appropriate commands to correct the problem.

Today’s modular CNC can be configured for a wide variety of machine types and performance levels- from simple two-axis turning centers to five-axis high speed machining centers to multi-station transfer.

Control requirements for high speed machining of sculptured surfaces, such as dies and molds

In conventional system, the CAM converts the CAD model (along with associated tooling and machining data) into a CNC program. Traditional CNC systems are optimized to process programs based on the linear blocks as fast as possible to realize faster point-to-point processing within the control. To machine parts with complex geometries, the number of linear blocks to be processed by the control is extremely large. Similarly, to improve surface finish, CAM tolerance requires tightening, increasing thereby the number of linear points to process. Cost and complexity of the CNC system increases to a great extent to provide enough processing power to accommodate the competing demands of processing speed and large part- program. Traditional CNC uses different algorithms to process linear, circular and helical motion blocks. However, the more modern CNCs are based on a “Universal Interpolator” in which all programmed interpolation types are converted within CNC into a common mathematical representation, The method offers all CNC functions independent of the programmed types. CAD/CAM today rely on NURBS (Non-uniform Rational B- Splines) to represent the workpiece geometry, because of their ability to represent complex three-dimensional contours. A “Universal Interpolator” based on third-order polynomial format can represent all traditional interpolation types (line- first order polynomial, circle-second-order polynomial), as well as a variety of new interpolation formats that allow curved contours to be programmed efficiently. Some traditional CNCs are programmed using NURBS interpolation, but these systems restrict CNC functionality when operating in NURBS mode. Restrictions include limiting programming to a maximum of three axes, not allowing changes to the programmed feed rate, not permitting active tool offsets, and not allowing a search to a block in the middle of the NURBS contour. A universal interpolator based CNC running the same program converts the programmed moves from the NURBS format into an internal polynomial representation that is processed with full CNC functionality thereafter. New CNC improves overall machining process and reduce machining time significantly. In one case, with advance CNC using a universal interpolator, a complex automotive part having sculptured surfaces, sharp edges and abrupt contour changes could be machined in 33 minutesas against 83 minutes with a conventional control.

CNC for 3-D surface contours present some challenging situation. A combination of fast block transfer time (the number of blocks per second the CNC executes) with a still faster servocycle time (the amount of time a CNC takes for each measuring and command cycle) becomes a necessity to assure high data throughput and optimal accuracy. Chart below shows servo-cycle times, measuring speeds and distances traveled at different feed rates.






































It is clear from the above table that to mill as accurately at 30.48 m/min as at 2.54 m/min feed rate, the control must be that much faster. Again, in 3-D generation the cutter must move through the points without dwelling. Most CNC milling machine takes from 2.5 to 5.0mm to stop from a move at 2.5 m/ min. If CNC control and machine are instructed to flow through data at high feed rates where point departures are short, gouges can result at points of abrupt changes in the contour. A look-ahead feature has evolved from a need to prevent gouges while milling point-to-point in rapid succession. Without look-ahead, the CNC might be surprised by the abrupt change in direction over a short move of only 0.25mm. If the feed rate is too high to stop in that distance, the result will be an overshoot. The centerline of the tool will miss its projected path, resulting in a gouge in the part. Look-ahead capability evaluates data many blocks ahead to prevent gouge in the part.

In traditional CAD/CAM system, common bottlenecks are DNC and the CNC controller. Direct CNC networking ( DCN) today has overcome the data flow problems in high speed machining. DCN uses existing networking architecture to provide a direct network link from the CAD/CAM to the CNC, eliminating the DNC system entirely. DCN is normally 1,000 times faster than DNC.Accuracy or overshooting problems has been removed by providing sufficient look-ahead capability in CNC. Performance of CNC is measured in term of time required to process one block of program data- ‘block processing time’ or ‘block cycle time’ in milliseconds. Block cycle time for the CNC must be compatible enough to meet the acceleration capability of the machine.

Again, PC-based controls are replacing traditional CNC. Digital signal processing (DSP) in PC-based controls today uses special dedicated processors to convert and interpret digital signals at very high speeds. Using DSP, a single board can control up to 8-axes at the fastest servocycles. With so much power, DSP systems allow tuning the acceleration for real conditions and specific machine characteristics. DSP minimizes following error, reduces strains on the machine, yet provides higher overall acceleration improving the speed as well as accuracy.

High Performance controllers

High performance CNCs with block processing times of less than a millisecond (thousandth of a second, ms) today can process part program much faster. A high end Mitsubishi controller has a processing and execution rate of 0.89 ms. A well tuned machine can still maintain a feed rate of 16.8m/min with points spaced just 0.25mm apart. High end CNCs today apply sophisticated algorithms to achieve a remarkable combination of precision and speed. GE Fanuc with the latest all-digital CNC hardware claims to achieve contouring rates of up to 3.75-7.50m/min while maintaining accuracy as high as 3 to 5 microns.

All higher level controls have “look-ahead” capabilities that scan ahead in a part program looking for abrupt changes in direction in the commanded path. CNC can see the turns coming and triggers acceleration/ deceleration routines automatically so as not to overshoot the intended path or to undercut external corners due to servo following error. Some machine tool builders are enhancing look-ahead capability with software to optimize performance. Makino augments its Fanuc 16M controls with its own 64-bit “Super Geometric Intelligence” card encoded with software that works in conjunction with the CNC’s 120-block look- ahead capability. NC programmer can use the maximum desirable feed rate. The control system dynamically adjusts.

With these improvements, the system also requires an extremely responsive servo system, tightly integrated


Latest Trends in Machining

with the tool path processor. Besides multiple high speed processors in the CNC that share various real time control tasks, some systems also utilize “smart” digital axis drives. For the sake of speed, feedback loops go directly back to the drives, rather than to the CNC, though the control does monitor overall system accuracy.

A completely digital system provides opportunities for further control enhancements. For instance, by G-code command, the Mitsubishi 500 CNC can be switched into “high precision mode” to increase accuracy and reduce cycle time. Normally, acceleration and deceleration are factored at constant rate, but in this mode they are calculated as function of the feed rate. Moreover, control algorithms can soften the beginning and end of acceleration/deceleration moves into a gentler “S- curve”, which will result in significantly smoother servo system performance. Adaptive digital filtering is also used to suppress system vibrations within a certain frequency range. Controllers with the NURBS (Non-uniform Rational B- Splines) interpolation today can import curves of virtually any complexity into the CNC and machine directly. Besides providing a smoother and more accurate surface, NURBS interpolation has made block-processing limitations irrelevant and allowing programs to be executed substantially faster than with comparable point-to-point contouring techniques.

Trends for new controllers

The trends for new controllers are to be open, economical, maintainable, modular, and scaleable.

Open means ‘allowing the integration of off-the-shelf hardware and software into a controller infrastructure that supports a de-facto standard environment.’ Open architecture control essentially meets four requirements:


It uses standard computing architectures.


It must be based on standard operating systems.


It must be programmable in standard languages.


Its control software must be open and extendible to let the user integrate custom control algorithms.

Economical means low life cycle cost. The cost of opportunities lost because proprietary equipment could not be upgraded; and the costs incurred because available hardware and software and tools could not be used- are included in the life cycle cost.

Maintainable means maximum uptime, fast repairs, easy maintenance, and extensive support from suppliers, integrated self-diagnosis and help functions, and minimal spare parts inventory.

Modular means permitting plug-and-play of a limited number of components for selected functions.

Scaleable means easy and efficient reconfiguration.

Controllers will not remain proprietary in machine tools. In stead of the present necessity of replacing a controller with newer and better model from the same control manufacturer when a few new functions need to be added, only the software will be changed as per requirement. Open modular architecture controller (OMAC) will thus eliminate the multitude of proprietary controllers with universal software packages that can easily be updated as new developments are introduced. The control will then be



supported, upgraded, and maintained by the end user throughout the life of the machine tools postponing obsolescence. Ultimately all proprietary hardware elements will be removed from the control system, and a controller will be totally software-based with generic processors running software modules. Machine control system will have facilities for collecting data from the machine tool and making it available to a higher level in the manufacturing process. The control system will improve communications between the group handling part design and the group/groups responsible for manufacturing. CNC of the machine tool will become a PC connected to Internet where the updates may be loaded as and when required, where the support services such as maintenance can readily reach from any part of the globe.

Intelligent machine tools

A new concept of intelligent machine tool is already under development with the following specific features as goal:


Intelligence: to acquire, systematize, and utilize the manufacturing knowledge.


Autonomy: to make decisions based on its own criteria, and physically support and maintain itself if possible.


Flexibility: to cope with various changes in requirements, available resources, constraints, etc.


Cooperation: to find mutually agreeable solutions with other machines or agents through communication, exchange information and negotiation.

Some of the important functions of the intelligent machine tool are as follows:


Communication and coordination with other machines and equipment

Communication with the higher-level control computer, CAD system and the other equipment on the shop floor, such as other machine tools, AGV, inspection machine, important. The coordination with other machines and equipment is essential to optimize the total system performance and also to cope with changes and unforeseen events. Emphasistoday is more on man-machine interface and the user friendliness.


Machining preparation

Machining preparation covers the process planning, the operation planning, NC programming, etc.The machine must generate the optimum NC commands for the specific task, cope with changes in machining requirements and available resources, prepare the reference information required for the decision making in the later process, etc.

Just as a skilled operator does, the intelligent controller conceives the machining scenario once the CAD data and the requirements are given, simulates the whole process and generates the machining information. If it is judged that the machining data generated are not optimum for the given task, the whole process is repeated until the optimum solution is obtained. The machining knowledge and the


Latest Trends in Machining

knowledge base are improved by accumulating the empirical knowledge of the skilled and experienced operators and also by learning through accumulation of the actual data.


In-process control of machine and machining process

Once the machining data are generated, the machine tool and the machining process must be kept at their optimum conditions during operation with the aid of various sensors. There are primarily three feedback loops from the machining process to the actuator. The first one is the direct feedback from the process to the actuator via the sensor. It deals with the reflective motion of the machine with minimum time delay to avoid the fatal damage of the work or the machine against accidental events such as the tool breakage.

The second feeds the sensor signal to the actuator via CNC controller, which deals with the conventional NC feedback such as the position or the velocity feedback. The conventional adaptive control of the constraint type can be included in this feedback loop, which controls the machine tool motion by comparing the process signal measured with the predetermined constraints.

The third one feeds the sensor signal to the CNC controller via the intelligent controller, which generates the commands for real time modification of the cutting conditions and the cutter path as required to optimize the machining process in terms of the accuracy, the efficiency, the cost, etc. Some of the malfunctions of the machine and the troubles in the machining process, such as the thermal and the elastic deformations, cannot be readily identified from the sensor signals obtained during machining. The machining knowledge, which is either empirical or theoretically obtained by the simulation, can play an important role in such cases.

Table 1: Trouble in machining and possible actions to be taken by intelligent controller

Malfunction /


Source of trouble


Source of information

Actions to be taken



Tool breakage


In-process sensing

Emergency stop Regeneration of NC command for recov- ery







Forced vibration




In-process sensing

Real time modifica- tion of Cutting conditions


Gravitational force



Inertia force



Clamping force




Cutting force

Cutter path


External heat source Internal heat source Cutting heat



(Predictive com-



Tool wear

Wear process




Elastic recovery


Post-process sensing

Regeneration of NC Program for rework (Predictive com- pensation)


of work

Thermal shrinkage




Table 1 summarizes typical examples of the malfunctions and the troubles in machining and the possible actions to be taken against them. The in-process sensing, the between-process sensing and the prediction based on the machining simulation and the knowledge will essentially be important to properly identify the state of trouble for such intelligent control. The knowledge also plays an important role in determining the appropriate actions.


Post-process information processing and learning

The post process inspection and evaluation of the work and sometimes of the tool and the machine are also important to generate information for the rework of the unfinished work or for the predictive compensation for the next job. The information acquired at this state is also important to accumulate the knowledge.

An intelligent controller

Mazatrol Fusion 640 CNC of Yamazaki Mazak Corp. (Japan)- the world’s largest machine tool builder is one such intelligent control based on a 64-bit RISC (reduced instruction set computing) chip that functions as a PC network terminal. With this control, machine tools have become networkable PCs. An office or home PC loaded with Mazak’s ‘Production Center’ software can accept DXF or IGES files from customers, generate machining program, determine required tools, simulate machining operations to determine optimum cutting conditions and workload for each machine, calculate and schedule total machining time for each job, transmit fixture and setup information to the operator and even monitor production in real time from a remote location. The control uses a library of optimum cutting conditions and tooling data in a function called “machining navigation’.

Changing a cutting program in conventional CNC requires programming, making a test cut, modifying the program, and then repeating test cuts and modifications to find the optimum approach. With Fusion 640, following initial programming with machine navigation function makes a table appear displaying the tool selected, cutting load, and machining time for each process required to machine the part. Process time is displayed as a color bar with each process in a different color. The longest bar quickly reveals the longest cycle time. The navigation function then will prompt a more effective cutting option calculated from the load condition. For example, while in navigation, a window might appear saying ‘It is possible to increase cutting speed up to X. Cutting speed is limited by maximum spindle output of X.’ Selecting the new cutting condition automatically modifies the program and recalculates the spindle motor load, all before any chips fly. Since each condition is changed in a simulation mode, the system finds optimum cutting conditions much more quickly while reducing the need for test cuts.

This fusion of the PC and CNC makes the machine tool itself a PC and functions as a network terminal on the shop floor. Job schedules, setup instructions, statistical process control data, and operating records are stored in the same environment as machine diagnostics and tool data. Each machine can store a database for parts, machining operations, tooling required for which it is loaded. Each shop can build a knowledge base. Such a database can help users make better tooling or machining choices that might save production time on similar parts. Managers and other service departments may monitor machine status and cutting conditions in real time using their own PCs. The main thrust is to reduce the idle time (that in some cases may be as high as 90%)when the machine


Latest Trends in Machining

does not cut chips and waits for setup, programming, and other unproductive tasks to be carried out. Mazak predicts 300% productivity increases to its customers through reduced cycle times and more efficient programming and machining through intelligent controller.


Tool wear/ breakage monitoring forms an important part of machining process. Failure of monitoring causes the slow down of the process. Increasing tool wear may cause serious damage not only to the tools, but also to the work-piece and sometimes, even to the machine tools. Effort is being made to substitute the dependence on skilled operator’s eyes and ears to signal the need to replace the tools once they are worn. Appropriate tool condition monitoring is becoming essential feature that has been further eased by gradually increasing use of single spindle machining. Strategies for automatic wear and breakage monitoring are primarily based on incorporating sensors into the machining system. Sensors must warn operator of impending problems early enough for them to initiate actions to avoid the damage.

Established tool life in number of pieces or time unit for the tool based on data from the past average tool life with a safety factor can be added in the program. After the production of the required number or the programmed time interval, any further use of the tool is prevented. Long unmanned production is achieved, as alternative tool can be called for the tool whose life is elapsed. However, the trend is to use a technology- based method with real time condition monitoring. Most innovations today relate to in-process systems to detect wear or failure of tools on real time basis and to interrupt machining. Lasers and sensors detect vibration, acoustic emission, horsepower, torque, and force for in- process monitoring:

Acceleration or vibration sensors pick up the change in vibration, either as a burst of energy or an increase in amplitude of vibration as a tool breaks or becomes worn through the machine structure and back to some point located on the part side of the machine. As a bad bearing may hide a bad tool on the spindle, so they are mounted on the part side.

Acoustic emission sensors use piezo-electric transducers to monitor the amplitude of acoustic pulses against previously established values.

Horsepower sensors placed in the line with the spindle motor measures current and voltage. Horsepower sensors can handle most of the monitoring challenges. However, horse power sensors have limitations in case of a broken tool on a high speed spindle moving at 20,000 -30,000 rpm, and also in tapping operations where a tap typically breaks at the point of reversal of rotation during back out, because of a power spike at that moment.

Torque sensors with one element on the shaft and one on the body of some fixed part of the machine such as the spindle body monitors tapping operations effectively.

Force sensors are the choice for turning. The flexing of a turret lathe under excessive load causes sensor output to increase relative to the wear of the tool. When the tool breaks, the load drops below some preset limit. New force sensors are now mounted on the outside of the turret unlike the earlier ones that used be embedded under the turret.



Laser is also being extensively used for tool condition monitoring. The tool passes through a laser beam, as it goes back into the tool-holder. The beam can spot missing, worn, or chipped tools even on a milling cutter rotating at very high speed. However, the cost of laser is high.

As discussed earlier, machine controls are becoming intelligent. Tool monitoring systems are already getting integrated into CNCs and PLCs. Controls builders are developing more sophisticated systems to classify types of disturbances and actions required. Developments in controls are using high speed signal processing that will ultimately take care of complete tool monitoring function.


Five sources for inaccuracies in a part are normally– machine geometry, machine thermals, process thermals, process parameters, and measurement error. Precision is attained through effective balancing of all the elements. However, the precision of a machine tool is one major factor deciding part accuracy.

Trend is toward tighter part specification for all machining processes. For a consistent production of quality parts over the effective life of the machine tool, emphasis today is on a regular monitoring and maintenance of the accuracy of machine tool. Quality of performance capabilities of machine tools are defined by:

» Accuracy

» Repeatability

Accuracy is how precisely a machine can position the cutting tool at a given location once, while repeatability is the precision with which the tool can be consistently moved to a given position.

Present trend for improved quality is to go for machines with known performance based on standards. Gradually, the machine tool builders are accepting standards such as ANSI/ ASME B5.54 introduced in 1994 to express accuracy and repeatability. The standards describe tests and performance parameters. To find the right machine for the task, techniques are needed to translate these performance parameters into part tolerances. Further, a machine’s performance characteristics are required to be stored for reference. “Footprinting” is developing as an alternative to the standardized tests when making a limited number of parts in large volume. A probe regularly measures a reference part. The values obtained are the footprint or signature of the machine. The changes in the measured dimensions over time provide the information about the machine’s health. Two versions of tests normallyin use for regular monitoring are:

1. The more complete check, which requires to measure 18 displacement error parameters that include six possible errors per axis: As the spindle moves along a single axis of travel, possible errors include linear displacement inaccuracies, horizontal and vertical straightness deviation, and three rotational errors- yaw, pitch, and roll (Fig.2.20). Additionally the perpendicularity of the axes relative to one another must be measured. A complete geometric characterization of a machine tool requires a total of 21 measurements for a three-axis machine (‘more’ for more number of axes).

2. The ‘one-day, five-test’-version that verifies basic positioning. Trend in world class manufacturing plants today is to use this Rapid Machine Tool Error Assessment (RMTEA). The key element is a laser sensor. Prediction of performance deterioration and planning for corrective steps for a machine is done through trends of the error measurement data.


Latest Trends in Machining







Fig 2.20 Various inaccuracies requiring regular monitoring

A ball bar and a laser interferometer are the two key instruments that are required for the test. The ball bar helps in evaluating the volumetric accuracy of machine tool, while the interferometer does both static and dynamic tests. Both laser and ball bar have become more user-friendly to make periodical calibration of the machine tool a practical routine task to keep the accuracy of the machine tool within the desired limit. The ball bar has revolutionized knowledge of machine tools, asit reveals the contouring problem of the machine. Renishaw’s latest ball bar software includes a powerful diagnostic tool that helps the user predict the likely cause of the contouring error, such as linear positioning accuracy, squareness, or backlash. Laser interferometer checks linear positioning accuracy and also measures the machine’s geometric errors.

Grid system is another means for evaluating machine accuracy, if the measurement accuracy required is to be better than that possible with the ball bar. The system uses an optical grid and special encoder. The encoder can sense any pathway the normal cutting tool would follow. The results can be used to check control system integrity as well as machine geometry.

In another approach, the quality of manufactured part is improved through active error compensation. Sensors detect the error as it occurs and immediately send corrective signals to the controller of the machine. Smarter sensors will not only detect the parameters such as temperature, pressure, vibration, but can also decide what to do with the signal, where to send the data (warning bearing wear, or low coolant temperature), take some corrective action or sound some alarm. The sensors will become soon an integral part of the machine tool and will not remain add-on. Some standardized interfaces will be necessary so that these sensors can more easily communicate to each other and the controller. However, transient thermal errors with characteristics that change dramatically with operating and environmental conditions still remain tough to pinpoint and difficult to compensate.




Metalworking fluids cool the tool/machine tool, flush the chips from the cutting area, lubricate the work- tool interface and reduce friction, and help fracture chips into manageable sizes. It also provides cleaning and anti-corrosive benefit. An intelligent coolant management is critical. Flood cooling (at pressure less than 5.5 MPa) and high-pressure and high-volume cooling are major trends for machining. Both the trends aim at assuring to get the coolant effectively onto tool-part interface to avoid intermittent cooling and heating of cutting point/s during cutting. In flood cooling, a large volume of coolant cascades over the area of machining. With the high temperature at the tool/chip interface, the coolant boils away before it can reach the desired destination where the metal is actually in cut. The super heated steam forms a barrier that low-pressure coolant can not penetrate. Some toxic coolant elements remain when all of the water boils away. Effective cooling does not occur. The interface gets hardly any lubrication. However, the technique is sufficiently effective at lower operating speeds and shallow cuts and bores.

For effective cooling during machining at higher speeds and deep cuts, it is necessary to force the fluid into work area at high pressure. High pressure applied is in the range of 5.5-40 MPa. A high-pressure, high volume system forces sufficient fluid into the cutting zone to remove the heat. No vapor can form because of increased local pressure. The system if properly applied helps to break chips by hitting the cutting edge at about 350-480 kph. The force keeps the broken chips from falling back into cut that normally spoils the surface. The system flushes of the chips more effectively even for gummy materials, and results in a longer tool life. In many applications, high pressure cooling effectively improves productivity with about 20% reduction in cycle time and 20% increase in tool life. Sometimes, coolant supplied at two pressures: high-pressure, low-volume fluid is directed at work area, while low-pressure, high volume fluid flush away chips. Water-based coolants have become the norm in manufacturing. Trend is to use biodegradable ‘green’ coolant.

High–pressure system normally provides the same volume of fluids at same pressure to every tool in the machine. Coolant management through CNC is a new major innovation. CNC regulates both the pressure and rate of flow. The operator programs the flow to match each cutting tool and each application. The systems result in less fluid to filter, so improve the filter life. If a system pumps 30 l/ min, and the tool in use, say a 6mm drill can only pass 8 l/min, a mechanical pressure relief valve must bypass the remaining 22 l/min. This extra coolant causes foam, unwanted heat, and short filter life. In another situation, if one application requires 38 l/min and can only get 30 l/min, in absence of the volume pressure can not be maintained. If the drill can only pass 8 l/min, the CNC system only filters and pumps 8 l/min and does not bleed off anything. Computer-based controls operating through a feedback loop automatically provide the correct volume to maintain full pressure. The combination of programmable pressure and automatically variable volume doubles filter and pump life. Lower power consumption and less fluid degradation are additional advantages.

The cutting fluids create a major environmental concern. Grease, lubricating oils, hydraulic oils from the machine tool get mixed into the coolant during the cutting process that result in decomposition of the emulsion. Bacteria that are fed on the tramp oil grow in the machine sumps causing real problem and health hazard for operators. Tramp oil also carries very fine metallic particles, and affects filter life. It also deteriorates tool life and effective cooling. Handling and disposal of cutting fluids require sufficient attention.


Latest Trends in Machining

Trend is to critically look at every aspect of coolant management. Total productive maintenance deals on shop floor takes care of cleaning, housekeeping, and good maintenance of machine, and

hydraulic seals preventing oil leaks and contamination. Coolant management also includes the recycle of coolant by separating the tramp oil and metallic fines either with a simple oil skimmer or through

a plant of different level of sophistication. Even for small number of machines, effective coolant

treatment systems of suitable sizes are today commercially viable and available. For smaller plants, portable filtering unit of the required capacity is getting wide acceptance for coolant treatment. In

a little more sophisticated setup, on-site recycling begins with filtering coolants to remove solid particles,

putting the coolant through a heat exchanger to kill bacteria, and pumping it through a centrifuge to separate tramp oil. Rust inhibitors, biocides, emulsifiers, extreme pressure additives can be added

before passing it through a final filter before reuse.

Trend is to look for the sources of the coolant and chip related problems in machine design, and incorporate features such as the shape and size of sump, position of sump, pump requirement, paint quality, assist effective coolant management.


With flexible machining systems, the preference is also shifting to flexible and effective workholding systems. Innovations and use of CAD for fixture design help to take away every unnecessary second out of manufacturing cycle time. New machining concepts provides certain advantages as well as present challenges for effectivenes of fixtures.With increasing cutting speed, the cutting force to be contained by the fixture is reducing that simplifies the fixture design and its clamping system.But machining of as many sides as possible in one clamping limits the holding and clamping areas.

Trend is to use modular and quick-change work holding. The objective is to provide productivity improvements and to enhance flexibility without the costs inherent in dedicated, custom-built fixtures. Modular fixture uses off-the-shelf standard clamping and locating components that are mounted on

a standard sub-plate to accommodate the configuration of the work-piece. Use of multiple workpiece

fixtures is increasing for better utilization of the capability of machining centers. In multi work-piece

fixture, several standard clamping and locating components are mounted to the sub-plate so that multiple number of work pieces may be machined in the same setup. Built-in accuracy of the standard parts of the modular design ensures the precision and tolerances of a dedicated fixture.

Cost of obsolescence of the dedicated fixture once the part gets changed is another reason for the preference for modular fixtures, as most of the parts of the fixture can be reused in the newly reconfigured fixture for another part.

Lead-time for the fabrication of fixtures is very important for rapid new part development demanded today. Depending on the complexity of application, a modular system can be assembled in as little as 30 minutes.

Fixtures with pallet and tower configurations are used for vertical and horizontal machining centers with various types of indexers and rotary tables. Many types of modular fixtures arecommercially



available. Unfortunately, no standard has been agreed and established for these modular fixtures. Fig. 2.21 shows a tomb stone for verticval machining centre. Additional subplates can be set up off- line and changed quickly on the tombstone. System components in modular fixturing are assembled to the base plate with T-slots or dowel-pin holes. The base plates of a T-slot system incorporate a series of crisscrossed evenly spaced slots. Components with T- nuts and studs are slid into the correct position and tightened to remain in position. However, the system does not

provide repeatable locations for the components or offer easily identified reference points. A dowel-pin system is preferred, if the fixtures are to be dismantled and rebuilt repeatedly. The base plates in a dowel-pin system incorporate regularly spaced rows of alternating dowel-pin and tapped holes, where the dowel holes are used to locate and tapped holes are for fastening the components on the base plate. An alphanumeric identification system is used for recording and repeating. One system called ‘Sera-Lock” incorporates a serrated, ductile iron mounting surfaces on a sub-plate upon which manual or hydraulic clamping devices are deployed. The surfaces of the various clamping units have serration that match those on the sub-plate, so that a standard T- nut connection creates a rigid interface preventing any unwarranted movements. The serration spacing or pitch allows the use of different short stroke clamping elements, so that the stroke of a movable clamping component need only be slightly longer than the pitch of one serration.

Workpieces Quick -change pallet fixture Tombstone tailstock Four-sided custom tombstone fixture support Accurock
Quick -change
pallet fixture
Four-sided custom tombstone fixture

Fig. 2.21Tomb stone for verticval machining centre

Though traditionally, modular fixturing is used for short run, interim work, or prototyping, trend is to build even dedicated fixtures out of standard modular components, base plates, columns for high production runs. Preference for these hybrid fixtures is for two reasons:

1. Modular components used in dedicated fixture can be reused once the production of the part is discontinued. In case, the wear of the modular components affects the accuracy, the replacements are fast.

2. For ease of storage, the fixture can be dismantled. Reconstruction is possible at any time, as required.

While manually applied holding clamps are still popular for small volume production, hydraulic clamps get now preference, as it ensures the consistent clamping pressure every time. Hydraulic clamps are best suited for production where there is need for fast cycle times and ease of operation. With sequential hydraulic clamping system using several holding clamps, the cutting tools can even reach areas covered by a clamp in conventional fixture. A hydraulic workholding system incorporate an electrical or air-powered pump; controls; and actuators, including clamps, cylinders, and work supports.


Latest Trends in Machining

Actuators, that locate and hold the part, are installed on the fixture. Double acting clamps are used for fast and precisely timed clamping and unclamping action. Actuation of the system may be manual or totally automated through CNC program.

Vacuum work holding system provides the ultimate technology. The system uses a molded plastic mat that is covered with molded suction cups. Each suction cup has a small hole in its center to transmit vacuum clamping force. A special chuck plate holds the mat. The work-piece is placed on the mat, and vacuum is applied. For adequate holding force, it is not necessary to have all suction cups covered unlike a traditional vacuum fixture that must have a complete seal or the part will not be held at all. The work holding system has potential to adapt to handle all kinds of workpieces in every shop.









Fig.2.22 A Typical Quick -Change fixture

With trend for performing machining operations on maximum number of faces in one clamping, magnetic work holding are also getting into the race in recent years. Recent advances in magnetic materials have increased the power of magnets while reducing the size of magnetic workholding unit. Rare earth iron boron neodymium that is at least five times more

powerful than other materials have been used in new magnetic workholding devices. Instantaneous clamping force of 12 tons per square feet can be provided by magnetic workholding. With incorporation of pole extensions that raise the workpiece above the surface of the magnet table, the magnetic work holding can be used for drilling through holes without damaging the magnet. Self-shimming pole extensions allow contoured or even warped workpieces to be gripped over their full surface area without deflection. As claimed, the technology of practical magnetic workholding is available. Initiative to use the technology in preference to mechanical workholding lies with manufacturing engineers.

Many conventional work-holding fixtures that are used for machining of a family of part, are being manufactured with quick-change features with only add-on parts to be changed during the setup change, as shown in Fig 2.22. Quick-change fixtures are the variation of modular fixture system, but it is durable enough to handle more demanding production runs. When 100 different parts are taken for production in 1000-piece lots several times a year, durable quick-change fixture systems are preferred for rapid change changeover. In one such case, the tooling change time was reduced to 30 sec from 5 hours. Characteristics of different work-holding devices are shown in Table 2.

Intelligent Fixturing System (IFS): IFS is the future of workholding system that is being developed initially for the high volume production. A machine tool manufacturer of USA and the consortium of a number of American universities are working on the project. IFS will eliminate the need for fixed mechanical locators that limit the flexibility of current types of machining fixtures. Locators mate with part features in order to locate the part with respect to the pallet fixture and/or machining station.



Table 2: Characteristics of Different Work holding Devices






Special design


Semi-permanent and special design


Custom-made of stan- dard and custom parts, most detailed, compact size

Custom-made, reusable off-the-shelf elements, simple construction, large size

Custom-made, reus- able off-the-shelf el- ements, simple con- struction





Production sizes


Low-volume, one-of-a- kind

High-volume, longer short-running


Parts held

Any by design



Setup times

Long, lengthy

Short to long





Elements durable; work holder semi-durable


Number of operations handled

One station or operation



IFS project will cover flexible clamping system, part location system, part micropositioning, and a fixture configuration station.

With the IFS, the position of a part is not known with great precision either before or during the clamping cycle. However, after a part is secured, the part–location system is used to precisely locate the part with great speed and accuracy. With the difference between the actual and desired position of the part known, the part micropositioner is used to correct any misalignment before the part is ready to be machined.

IFS also eliminates the need for the part-qualification process, during which nonfunctional features are machined into the workpiece so that subsequent fixturing can take place. This change will shift the current paradigm of machining nonfunctional location features, and remove several machining operations that now take place on components such as cylinder heads, blocks, transmission cases, and exhaust manifolds.

Performance capabilities of machining fixtures of the future will incorporate most, if not all of the followingactivities:

The ability to eliminate the use of mechanical locators and nonfunctional machined features as a means of establishing part location.

The ability to be easily reconfigured to accommodate in a single fixture multiple parts within a specific part family

The ability to be easily reconfigured to accommodate in a single fixture all the setups required to machine all the features on any given part that is within a specific part family.

An open part-holding system that enables maximum access to multiple part features to reduce the


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number of reconfigurations required for a given part.

A monitoring system that is able to detect deviations from the intended position, with the intelligence to know how to adjust part-position in response to such deviations.

Sufficient fixture-part rigidity to ensure the viability of aggressive cuts while minimizing vibrations and guaranteeing stable and precise machine-feature generation.

Researches are going on to find new way of manufacturing where traditional workholding devices may not be required at all. Using the layer concept, finished parts are being produced in metals and in composites without the need for workholding. In years to come perhaps, the direct production of real parts will be possible. Techniques may be called anything such as solid free-form fabrication, layered manufacturing, and desktop manufacturing.

Workholding for turning: Turning lathes used to operate at lower spindle speeds with the mass and length of the work-pieces as the limiting factors. However, with trends for smaller near-net-shape work- pieces and emergence of high performance cutting tools, much higher speed is becoming the order of the day. Workholding chuck that tends to open at higher rpm was the another reason for slow speed turning. It necessitated redesigning of work-holding equipment, as with higher rpm the centrifugal force that pulls the chuck’s jaws outward becomes critical. Higher spindle speeds demand some way of counteracting centrifugal force without applying clamping pressures that will distort the work. Counterbalanced chucks with proprietary jaw-actuating mechanisms have been developed to extend the speed range further. A counterweight is used within the chuck body to balance whatever centrifugal force is exerted on the chuck jaw. However, the design approach has a limitation, as it makes a fixed assumption about the mass to be counterbalanced. At very high speeds, a significant grip loss will still occur if the top jaws are heavier and/or if they are positioned at a greater diameter than nominal. A new counter balanced chuck that places the counterweights right on the face of the chuck with each master jaw mechanically linked to the wedge-shaped weight located directly opposite. A single screw is loosened to remove the counterweight and machine it to appropriately change the mass. A 150 mm chuck can go up to 10,000 rpm, while a 100 mm version can touch 14,000 rpm, but the largest one of 250 mm chuck can go up to 7,000 rpm with no loss in gripping force. Today, a chuck can grip a workpiece with a force that will not decrease at high speed, making it possible to chuck thin-walled parts without damaging them.

For fragile parts, some manufacturers provide chuck with programmable differential pressure for rough machining and finishing with an in-between pressure change. Quick jaw change is another feature that is getting built into modern chucks. As predicted, 50% of all CNC turning machines will be equipped with some type of quick jaw change system. Today, the advantage of an accurate jaw change in one minute rather than 20 or 30 minutes is better appreciated. Most of these new chucks use the wedge-bar method of actuation and offer less loss of grip force, better accuracy than a standard chuck and no hysterisis spike (the sudden spike in grip force when stopping the spindle). Another quick jaw change product rapidly gaining acceptance is the palletized jaw chuck. With palletized top jaws, the jaw location is “dialed in” when first mounted on the pallets. Once in place the jaws are locked on the pallet and do never again require adjustment. In another innovative design, a swivel grip chuck for first operation machining has jaws that move as much as 6 0 to compensate for part taper or out-of-roundness. Today a new chuck design with pull back operation facilitates to produce consistently accurate part length. Electro-permanent magnetic chuck is another



unique workholding device that can be used for the ID, OD and face turning without stopping the machine in one setup. And the innovation goes on.


Workpieces in a machining plant are to be loaded and unloaded on and from the individual machine tools. Workpieces requiring more than one workstation are to be moved from one station to the next. Some of the equipment used for the purpose are:

Robots Gantry loader/unloader Automatic guided vehicles Special material handling systems

Part handling system may be an integral part of the machine, or one installed outside. A machining center with two-pallet worktable allows the machine to work on one part while the next part is getting loaded. In high-volume repetitive operations, fixed automation may remain the best. On batch production machines, swivel arm loaders of different designs are used. Double grippers load and unload the workpiece. Grippers are dedicated to the part or a family of parts. Part may be moved in/ out one at a time or in batches on suitable pallets. Fig 2.23 shows a gantry load/unload system that serves different machines.

a gantry load/unload system that serves different machines. Gantry loaders are overhead versions used in machining

Gantry loaders are overhead versions used in machining area to load / unload / transport the parts on machine tools laid in straight lines. Area gantry can cover machines laid out in two or three different lines.

The transportation between the workstations may also be through a suitable conveyor system such as free- flow or lift-and-carry.


are being extensively used where,

Positioning takes advantages of the robots multiple axes.

Variety shifts frequently

Parts are too heavy.

Stationary robots serve from one to four machines depending on cycle time. Rail mounted robots can


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serve additional machines. For feeding the machine tools, the robot often has two-gripper end effects so

it can pick up and deliver a part in one operation. Same robot may pick up different end-effects through

a quick-change system and serve a number of machines, if so required.

For serving two or more machines in flexible manner that is beyond the reach of a robot, RGVs (Rail Guided Vehicles), AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) or SGVs (Self-Guided Vehicles) may be used. RGV carries pallets on a straight set of tracks and serves machines on both sides of the tracks. With computerized and motorized system of the cart, the operator may not be required to load/unload the different stations.

AGV travel can be more random, and distances may be longer. A master computer establishes the sequence and delivery destinations for the carts that follow a wired path. In SGVs, a scanner on the cart looks for destination indicators - bar code-like markings on posts or machine tools. AGVs and SGVs are extensively used in batch production shops such as a gear shop to carry gears in batches from one process to another.

In machining, cutting tools perform the actual metal removal to achieve the specified size, geometry, surface finish and integrity of the surfaces generated. Next section will deal with the developments in cutting tools systems.

UPDATE 21.12.2000


Section 3


Tool materials, Top form geometry, Hole making tools, Thread making tools and techniques, Coating for better tool performance, Tool holding system, Tool clamping systems, Modular/ ‘Quick change’ toolings.

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Section 3


Tool materials, Top form geometry, Hole making tools, Thread making tools and techniques, Coating for better tool performance, Tool holding system, Tool clamping systems, Modular/ ‘Quick change’ toolings.


Major cutting tool materials can be broadly categorized into five High speed steels (HSS), Cemented carbides, Cermets, Ceramics,Cubic boron nitride (CBN), and polycrystalline diamond (PCD)- the first to last arranged from best toughness characteristics to best thermal hardness. With each development of cutting tool materials, the hardness has increased, and so also the allowable surface speed from HSS to PCD. While HSS today can work up to 30 m/min, tungsten carbides have a working range of 30 to 360 m/min. Ceramics, including silicon nitride can be used upto 1200m/min. CBN and PCD push surface speed above 1200 m/min. Surface speed and feed rates decide the productivity as well as tool life. While the earlier approach was to have a good tool life, with very expensive high speed machine tools the productivity is considered as major target as it provides greater cost reduction. It is established that a 50% increase in tool life only reduces total cost per part by about 1%, whereas a 20% increase in cutting speed reduces total tool cost per part by about 15%. Earlier concept of machining at lower end of cutting speed has given way to going for the optimum speed, as some of the high performance tool material can not be used below a specified surface speed. Surface speed and feed rates are pushed up within the capability of the machine tools and other conditions of applications to attain a cutting time of 15 minutes for the change of the cutting edge.

Very tough, fracture-resistant high speed steels are suitable for low speed/high feed rate machining and are more tolerant of machine tool vibration. Uncoated carbides, coated carbides, and cermets can machine at increasingly higher speed, but again with gradually reduced fracture resistance or lower feed rates. Ceramics and superhard CBNthat are not that tough, can machine at very high speeds with a huge metal removal rate, but the machine tools and the toolholding systemsmust have the required rigidity to overcome the fracture sensitivity of these tools.

Machinability of the workpiece material- its strength and ductility affects machining in terms of cutting forces generated and chip formation characteristics during machining and plays a decisive role in selection of cutting tool material. Some of the newer workpiece materials that are emerging for meeting the performance requirements of the products pose severe machining problems.

Selection of cutting tool material- rather the tool system depends on understanding the specific application. Normally, it is the way a tool fails in an operation that decides the properties required in the cutting tool material. Table 2.1 provides the failure modes of a cutting tool and the characteristics required in the cutting tool material to eliminate the failure.


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Water resistance, Hardness

Table 2.1 Failure modes and desired characteristics in tool material


Failure Modes

Desired characteristics in tool material


Abrasive wear on flank and clearance face

Tool hardness


Catastrophic breakage

Tool toughness


Crater wear on rake face

Chemical inertness


Built up edge (BUE)

Adhesion resistance



Abrasion resistance


Nose wear

Deformation resistance


Thermal cracking

Hot hardness, thermal shock resistance

An ideal tool material must

be hard

have high toughness

be chemically inert to work-piece

be chemically stable

have good resistance to thermal shocks

No tool material can have the best of these qualities. It is impossible to have a maximum of hardness along with maximum toughness-the measure of strength. Normally with increase in hardness, the toughness reduces. Relation between hardness and toughness of tool materials, in general, has been shown in Fig. 3.1. Looking at the comparison in toughness and wear resistance/hardness also reveals the evolution of cutting tool materials over the years. The figure also illustrates the relationship between speed and wear- resistance, which can be expressed as the relationship between heat resistance and wear resistance. HSS with their relatively low wear resistance could only be run at slow speeds. But as the wear resistance of the tool materials increases, so does the speed at which the materials can cut.

Standard diamond Diamond Coating Sintered CBN Ceramics Al 2 O 3 Si 2 N 4
Standard diamond
Diamond Coating
Sintered CBN
Al 2 O 3
Si 2 N 4
Coated cermnt


Coated carbide Cermented carbide
Coated carbide
Cermented carbide

Micrograin carbide


carbide Cermented carbide Micrograin carbide Toughness Coated H.S.S. P/M H.S.S. H.S.S. Speed Fig. 3.1 Relation
Coated H.S.S. P/M H.S.S. H.S.S. Speed
Coated H.S.S.
P/M H.S.S.

Fig. 3.1 Relation between hardness and toughness of different tool materials


A clear trend in cutting tool material research and development is to incorporate into the cutting tool materials more and more the properties they lack, thereby widening the application ranges of the various cutting tool materials presently in the market. Most of the plants are required to machine a multitude of parts of varying types and materials. Manufacturers intend to achieve the maximum cutting productivity with minimum inventory of the tools. The ideal tool material, if one is developed someday, must overcome all the limitations that make it necessary for the machinist to use more than one tool material.

Highlights of the developments in tool materials are:

HSS (High Speed Steel): Powder metallurgy processes for producing HSS improved grindability, toughness, wear resistance, and hot hardness significantly.Anew extruded composite material that consists of two layers - an outer layer of 50% titanium nitride distributed in a steel matrix, over an inner core of HSS is used for endmills. The tool material easily outproduces traditional solid HSS endmills by about four to one on most low-carbon steels, cast iron and light alloys. It may be used for hardened steel up to Rc 40 easily and it has proved especially effective for key-slot milling.

Cemented tungsten carbides: Properties of a tungsten carbide depends on its grain size, binder (cobalt) alloy percentage, and addition of titanium, tantalum carbide, and other alloying elements. The relationship between carbide grain size and binder percentage is the key to determine the properties. Based on grain sizes, a conventional grade uses 1.0µm to 6.0µm tungsten carbide grain sizes; average grain size for submicron grade is 0.7µm; and that for ultrafine submicron grade is 0.5µm. The smaller the carbide grain sizes, the higher the hardness and abrasive resistance, but the lower the resistance to shock. Larger carbide grain size increases toughness and resistance to shock loads, but reduces hardness. When the binder percentage is lowered, shock resistance declines. Conversely, raising the binder percentage improves shock resistance. Tantalum/niobium and titanium carbides are added to the binder system to take care of conditions such as galling or hot welding. The actual compositions are proprietary. New generations of carbide grades are 50% stronger than before. For the first time, carbide that is stronger (with 415 MPa transverse rupture strength) than high speed steel is available. A carbide-insert with more than 30 0 positive rake angle is being efficiently used for machining. The strength is the result of new manufacturing process for carbides and a new type of high pressure sintering. Sub-micron particles and cobalt enrichment increase the toughness.

Developments in carbide metallurgy extend the idea of controlled ratios of the WC-Co composition within the matrix to make inserts more versatile. The earlier concept of trade-off between hardness and wear resistance (WC-rich alloys) and shock and impact resistance (Co-rich alloys) is not necessary with precise control of the ratio within the individual inserts to attain both qualities. Differentiating material composition within carbide inserts itself (carbide to cobalt ratio) produces the desired balance of hardness and toughness such as tougher edges and harder core for machining materials such as stainless steel, or conversely tougher cores and harder edges for abrasive application. It ensures significant greater edge security and insert life.

Ceramics inserts have become tougher and suitable for a broader range of applications including high speed milling with purer and more consistent size of particles of the raw materials, improvements in material composition, and advanced insert production processes such as hot-isostatic pressing, pressure-assisted sintering and microwave sintering. Commonly used ceramic grades are : oxide ceramics (Al 2 O 3 , Al 2 O 3 + ZiO 3 ), mixed ceramics (Al 2 O 3 + TiC), whisker-reinforced ceramics,


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silicon nitride ceramics, and coated silicon nitride ceramics. Ceramics exhibit high material hardness, resistance to high temperatures (hot hardness), wear resistance, and chemical stability. Measures to improve the toughness have yielded good results with almost 30% higher transverse rupture strength of the new ceramic composites. The increase in transverse rupture strength enables ceramic inserts to gain the impact resistance required in high speed milling. Cutter design redirecting the forces of cut into the strongest part of the insert body further enhances its acceptability. Today, ceramics may be used for even interrupted cuts and machining of parts with harder and more abrasive scales. However, ceramics are still relatively lower in toughness, if compared to carbide or cermet.

Oxide ceramics: Toughness has improved with extremely fine-grained zirconia grains distributed homogeneously in alumina matrix. Transformation toughening inAl 2 O 3 -ZrO 2 composites is generated by a volume expansion of zirconia particles under a critical tensile stress that is generated ahead of an advancing crack, and is accompanied by the transformation of ZrO 2 from a tetragonal phase to a monoclinic phase. This transformation process is responsible for toughening of the alumina matrix. Oxide ceramics today are mainly used in rough and finish turning, as well as grooving of gray cast iron and nodular cast iron without coolant. Oxide ceramics are normally not recommended for milling.

Mixed ceramics: Aluminum oxide is mixed with other hard substances such as titanium carbide and /or titanium nitride or compounds with proportions between 30 and 40. By embedding these hard particles, higher hardness as compared to oxide ceramics is obtained. Simultaneously, bending strength and toughness are also improved because of the finely dispersed particles. The high hardness with the toughness increases the resistance to abrasive and erosive wear. As compared to oxide ceramic, the thermal properties are also better but the tendency to oxidation of TiC component limits the thermal loading capacity of mixed ceramics. New developments have produced grades with a very fine grain and extremely homogenous structure resulting in significantly higher hardness, fracture toughness and heat resistance than that of classic mixed ceramics. Mixed ceramics are used predominantly for finishing at high cutting speeds, hard turning of steel or chilled cast iron.

Silicon nitride ceramics with new developments offer the highest fracture resistance among all ceramics, and are used for rough machining of cast iron even with heavy interrupted cuts and varying depths, and also for milling cast iron, even with positive tool geometry. Silicon nitride machine gray cast iron at 400 m/min and higher. However, its chemical stability is not as good as oxide ceramics when machining steel. A coated silicon nitride offers 2-5 times the tool life of coated carbides in turning of gray cast iron.

Whisker-reinforced ceramics: The whisker toughening provided by SiC whiskers in an Al 2 O 3 matrix is due to the high strength of SiC whiskers and a relatively weak bond between the SiC whiskers and the Al 2 O 3 matrix. The reinforcement has considerably increased the toughness, strength, and thermal shock resistance. The whiskers make up some thirty percent of the contents. The inserts are manufactured through hot pressing which distributes the whiskers advantageously. Whiskered ceramics are far better suited for hard ferrous materials and nickel base alloys, but do not work satisfactorily on ferrous materials below 42Rc, because of certain reaction at the cutting edge. During hard part machining, chips are much shorter and more abrasive than those formed in machining of softer materials. The non-continuous ferrous chips do not remain in continuous contact with the hard material,and decrease the chemical reactivity time between the tool and workpiece. A whisker-reinforced Al 2 O 3 insert can turn 45-65 Rc hard materials up to about 8 times faster than uncoated tungsten carbides and four times faster than coated carbides.


New ferrous compatibility of whisker-reinforcing materials that are both stronger and more chemically inert has improved the performance of ceramics to handle a wider range of work materials including ferrous metals. Machining rates in milling and turning could increase several times.

Ceramics are the materials for dry high speed machining of cast iron and hardened steel. The new ceramics exploit the optimum speed outside the range of carbide tools where the heat of machining reduces the cutting resistance of the metal by softening and aids in grain boundary dislocation. The conservative approach to cutting speeds and feeds is the single most important reason for the failure of machining with ceramics. At slower speed, insufficient heat is generated, and the heat do not get transferred ahead of the cutting edge to anneal the hard workpiece, cutting forces become too high causing insert failure. During milling, the surface speed must be increased proportionately as the width of cut decreases to generate and maintain sufficient heat in the shear zone of the workpiece material to reduce the force necessary to cause slip along material shear planes. Table2.2 provides a guideline for application of different types of ceramics.

As ceramics’ toughness is still the limitation. Application is to be judicious. Ceramic does not work well with aluminum, Its superiority for gray and nodular iron, hardened steel, and heat resistant alloys depends on right grade, necessary edge preparation, style of holder, and rigidity of machine tools and setup.

Table2.2 Application of different types of ceramics




Cutting conditions




Steels (below 35Rc) Cast ironHardened steels

High speeds, light to medium feeds

Finish turning. Requires rigid setup. No coolants


Mixed ceramic

Hardened cast iron High temperature alloys

High speeds, low feeds

Finish turning, light inter- rupted cuts, milling. No coolant

Silicon nitride

Cast iron

Medium to high speeds, low to medium feeds

Rough and semi-rough turning and milling. With or without coolant

Whiskered reinforced Al 2 O 3

High temperature alloys Hardened steels Cast iron

Medium to high speeds, light to medium feeds

Rough turning/ milling Interrupted cuts

Cermets: Cermets are CERamic-METal combination materials containing both a free metallic phase and a ceramic or non-metallic phase, and are classified in two families: TiC-based materials and TiC-titanium nitride (TiN)-based materials. Japanese developed first improved cermet inserts by adding tungsten carbide and tantalum carbide to make them tough. Cermet owes its high hot hardness to the primary component of its hard particles-TiC. In 1973, Japanese manufacturers added TiN to the hard particle portion that provided a finer microstructure and improved high temperature strength and oxidation resistance. New cermets with greatly improved binders are shock-resistant enough to be used for milling and interrupted turning. Cermets with improved toughness properties offer high wear resistance and excellent edge security for finishing and semi-finishing applications. Cermets can run at higher cutting speed and hold size longer than most carbides. Cermets have also a lower reactivity with steel than most carbides, and work


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well for machining cast iron and aluminum. Cermets generally cost less than coated carbides, but still lack the toughness of tungsten carbide/ cobalt based materials required for roughing operations. As newer cermet inserts turn at high speeds and maintain a sharp cutting edge, the finish improves, and sometimes eliminate a finish grind. Basically, oxidation resistance of cermet reduces notching at the cutting edge in finishing applications, and this minimizes damage to the surface being machined.

The basic benefit of a cermet is its ability to operate at both very high as well as very low speeds. Newer cermets have toughness approaching some of the tungsten-carbide materials. With the additions of newer, more diverse cermets and innovative insert designs, cermets are outperforming coated carbides on a wide variety of applications.

Recent studies have established that PVD coating of the cermet tools improves the performance. Japanese are pursuing with further researches. Table2.3 compares cermet with various other cutting tool materials.

Table2.3 Cermets vs.varius other cutting tool materials



General applications

Cermet can

Cermet can not



High speed machining of aluminum alloys, nonferrous metals and nonmetals

machine same materials, but at lower speeds and significantly lower cost per corner.



Hard workpieces and high speed machining of cast irons

machine cast iron at lower speeds at significantly low cost per corner

machine the hard workpieces that CBN can. machine cast iron at the speeds CBN can

Ceramics (Cold

High speed turning and grooving of steels and cast iron

be more versatile and less expensive

run at higher speed.


Ceramics (Hot

Turning and grooving of hard workpieces, high speed finish machining of steels and irons

be more versatile and less expensive

machine the harder workpieces or run at the same speeds on steels and irons


Silicon nitride

Rough and semi-rough machining of cast irons in turning and milling applications at high speed and under unfavorable conditions

machine in moderate speed applications, and is most cost effective

machine cast iron at high speeds of silicon nitride ce- ramics

Coated carbide

General purpose machining of steels, stainless steels, cast irons, etc.

run at higher cutting speeds and provide better tool life at less cost for semi-roughing to finishing applications


CBN (Cubic Boron Nitride): Grains generated using a high-pressure (5-7 GPa), and high temperature (150 0 C-210 0 C) are sintered together with a binder to form solid CBN. Alternately, CBN grains are sintered on a tungsten carbide base. The higher will be the CBN content, the more will be the fracture toughness and resistance to abrasion. Grades with high CBN content are used mostly for machining chilled cast iron, sintered metals, hard coatings, pearlite cast iron. CBN is very successfully used in niche application for machining hardened steel. Because of their propensity to acelerate chemical weaa, CBN is not suitable for certain materials such as ductile iron, titanium, and soft steels.

PCD (Polycrystalline diamond): Fine diamond crystals are bonded during sintering, under high


temperature and pressure. The crystals are randomly oriented to eliminate any direction for crack propagation, and results in hardness and wear resistance uniformly high in all directions. The small PCD cutting edges are bonded to cemented carbide inserts, which add strength and shock resistance. Tool life may be up to 100 times more than cemented carbide. Today PCD is extensively used for machining especially the abrasive silicon–aluminium alloys when surface finish and accuracy are criteria.

There will always be niches, where particular cutting tool material will address an application better than other tool materials. HSS will continue for complicated form tools with expected gradual erosion in many applications by cemented carbides. Coated HSS will come in competition with carbide at relatively higher speeds. As a case, the old dogma that P-grades were for steel and K-grades were for cast iron and aluminum is gone. In fact, the only reason for the existence of P-grades is the small advantages offered when machining steel after regrinding without re-coating. Combining high toughness and hardness is now possible using ultrafine-grain carbides. Due to extremely high toughness, these carbides can replace HSS tools even in unstable and critical environments. Another major trend is for multiple grade carbide. Multiple grade carbide blanks provide a tough core surrounded by a finer, harder grade. Another major trend is for multiple grade carbide blanks are good solution for tools with edges on a constant radius, like reamers and end mills. But with tools that have radial edges, like drills and cone end mills, hardness and cutting behavior would change too much and chisel edge wear would occur too quickly. Here, cutting tool manufacturers are exploring techniques like electro- phoretic deposition (EPD) to encapsulate the carbide substrate in ceramic. This process provides greater control over the final toughness-hardness ratio.

Indexable inserts: Tools and cutters using high performance cutting tool materials for most of the machining processes are constructed with indexable inserts clamped in different ways in suitably designed body/holder of appropriate material for the application. Customized tools alsouse these inserts. Regrinding has thus been almost eliminated. Re-sharpening has become minimal, and so also the need of inhouse facilities for regrinding and skilled tool room operators. Even for threading and grooving, standard inindexable inserts are increasingly used. For drilling above 12 mm, indexable drills have brought in the productivity of carbides. The milling cutters are being constantly upgraded with lighter (not weaker), more precise, and yet more rugged designs. Combination of the cutter and the inserts is used to optimize presentation geometry at the cutting edge. Fitting different geometry in the same cutter pocket can transform the cutter from light cutting power for aluminum to heavy roughing on cast iron.

Insert today is an integrated system that covers an engineered substrate, top form geometry or chip- breaker, specific edge preparation, single or multiple coatings, appropriate size, style, and nose radius, and a holder. Each of these elements makes a distinct contribution to overall performance of the system. All the elements are to be well coordinated during specific application to get the best performance. As per an expert, 70% of a cutting tool’s performance is based on top form geometry and 30% on coating and substrate.


CAD, FEA, and simulation tools where the designer can actually see the change of cutting force and chip flow across an insert with every small geometry change he makes, help to develop an optimum


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top form geometry of an insert. Evaluation of different geometries is possible without having to run out to the machine to test them. Recent advances in computer-controlled mold-making and pressing technologies enable accurate micro-geometry to be formed on inserts. Development in coating technology has enabled more wear resistant grades to have more positive top form geometry. Today, top form geometry is not only considered to break chips. If properly designed, top form geometry also controls cutting forces, and this in turn can reduce heat, deformation, and friction to enhance tool life and improve size control and finish. Breaking chips is a turning geometry’s primary function, and is unnecessary in milling. The intermittent process of the cutter tooth contact breaks them automatically. That was the reason behind the earlier use of only flat inserts for milling. However, intermittent action causes inserts to undergo tremendous shock as they leave (severe tensile stress) and re-enter the cut (high compressive force on the edge). Temperature gradients are extreme and vibration may be critical. Engineered top form geometry has become important even in milling, as it improves milling productivity to increase by about 30% and edge life to increase between 30% and 50% while machining steel, cast iron, stainless steel, and even titanium.

Major top form geometry elements: To appreciate the change better, major geometry elements of an insert must be understood:

Positive rake lowers the shearing force required during machining. The area of the contact face diminishes with increasingly positive angles of rake.

Radius on edge adds strength. Smaller radius reduces potential tool life. Honing is to be as small and consistent as possible, as it provides predictable tool life and improves surface finish. Large radius increases the force required for cutting; also increases tendency to develop edge build up that affects surface finish badly, and can also cause chatter.

Chamfer on an insert’s cutting edge such as a T-land helps to redirect cutting forces into the mass of the insert- especially effective on ceramic and CBNinserts. However, T-land will increase cutting forces. As land width increases, the shearing action during machining moves from positive to negative. The smaller the land, the weaker the edge.

Chip groove land is the flat area behind the cutting edge. The wider it is, the stronger the cutting edge. It controls work material flow into the chip groove.

Insert’s chip control groove or chip-breaker: Functions of chip groove are as follows:

To control chip flow during cutting.

To direct the cut chips away from the work and to break it into easily disposable pieces.

To reduce cutting forces (by increasing the effective rake angle of the cutting edge)


To minimize cutting edge wear, thus increase tool life and reliability.

To control vibration and temperature elevation.

To enhance workpiece surface finish and dimensional integrity- helps to avoid marring the work surface and can reduce distortion, chatter, and heat.


Trends in top form geometry: The new developments in macro-and-micro geometry of inserts have affected the entire design of the tool cutting face, the primary land and the micro-geometry of the cutting edge configuration. Some of the main trends are:

1. Positive geometry: In early 80s, high-positive rake angles often meant thin, weak cutting edges unable to stand up to the cutting forces for machining steel. Milling with high-positive geometry was considered to be unpractical. High positive rakes above 8 degrees were considered suitable for only nonferrous machining such as aluminum. Flat or negative geometrywas normally used, as it is physically stronger and uses the great compressive strength of carbide. But as a great disadvantage, the negative geometry requires high spindle horsepower, as there is little or no shearing action. Chip formation is poor. Chances of built-up edge are high. These conditions generate high temperatures in the cutting zone. The resulting surface finish is poor.

Today in the area of carbide inserts even for milling, which was long associated with negative edge geometry for maximum strength, the move toward positive geometry is most evident. Carbide companies have directed their development effort to designing of inserts that effectively shear or cut material with a positive rake, rather than plough or push it away with a negative geometry. Positive geometry has already replaced the negative geometry in many applications. The degree of positive geometry is also increasing. A positive rake angle of 20 degrees or more are today common even in milling. The basic reason for positive rake milling is that cutting power requirements decrease by 1.3% per degree of positive rake and that cutting forces can diminish by 10% to 40% compared to conventional milling inserts. The advantages of positive- geometry milling include less heat generated, better finishes on the part, and less wear on the machine tools. The positive rake also directs axial cutting forces toward the center of insert support, thus improving insert life. Positive rake inserts have proven effective in controlling and reducing cutting forces in all three basic geometry configurations: positive axial rake/positive radial rake, negative axial rake/negative radial rake, and positive axial rake/negative radial rake.

2. Chip groove design: Pressed in chip grooves of various designs such as serrated and corrugated edges, tiny ridges and bumps near the cutting edge along the chip groove, are becoming common. Suitable chip deflectors are incorporated to encourage good chip flow away from the tool/workpiece interface. Main objective is always to transfer heat into the chips instead of it going to workpiece or the tool. The designs aim at effective chip breaking and chip control, to eliminate “bird nests” with consequent elimination of time loss in chip-handling. These features also reduce cutting forces, allow higher speeds and feed rates of machining requiring less power, reduce vibration resultiing in better surface finish, cut freely producing less heat, improve tool life and make tool life more predictable. Tiny ridges and bumps along the groove reduce the contact area and friction, and therefore, the heat-transfer between the hot chip and insert and accomplish the bulk of chip management.

Computer aided optimized design of chip grooves has been instrumental in developing amazing types of top form geometry commercially available on today’s inserts, Fig.3.2.

3. Micro-geometry of the edge: Micro-geometry along the cutting edges is controlled to strengthen the edge and extend tool life. Cutting land design is primarily to control force. Mostly, the lands are strongly positive as much as 16 0 for light finishing and rarely negative even for heavy-duty rough machining. Both the corner and the cutting edge usually are reinforced for edge security. For ceramics,


Latest Trends in Machining

cermets, CBN, and PCD cutting edges, the micro-geometry of the cutting edge becomes more critical because of their lower transverse fracture strength, and are accordingly modified and maintained, particularly so for milling.The combined development of grades and geometry has made it possible to use smaller reinforcing lands and to reduce cutting edge radii, while preserving the optimum toughness of the insert. The geometry ensures that chips are directionally controlled to reduce heating of the workpiece or the cutting edge.

to reduce heating of the workpiece or the cutting edge. Fig 3.2 Some latest inserts with

Fig 3.2 Some latest inserts with optimized top form geometry

Effect of cutting parameters on top form geometry: Cutting parameters affect the insert geometry significantly. At low to medium speed, a positive geometry minimizes build up edge. At high speed, the failure is due to crater wear on the top rake, so the geometry must reduce the heat and stress by having a small contact area between the chip and insert itself. For light feeds and shallow depths of cut, inserts need high shear angles and a narrow groove to curl the chip.Trends for high speed machining is forcing major researches in top form geometry.

Rationalization: Manufacturers are trying to produce the optimum insert to cover wider applications involving varying feed rate (say, 0.1 mm to 1.0 mm) and depths of cut (0.3 mm to 12.0 mm). The main objective to provide ease to users and reduction in inventory. For example, the efforts are being made to optimize the cutting geometry to meet special requirements of steel that may also be suitable for the machining of stainless steel and cast iron. Sandvik’s three chip curling geometry for fine finishing, semi-finishing, and rough machining cover 80% of the processes related to the turning of steel.

In milling, the earlier practice was to provide a different seat angle in cutter that usually was negative. Today, the seat design is fixed in a positive or negative plane, and the required resultant geometry is modified by the angles pressed into the insert. The practice can rationalize the cutter inventory and optimize every single milling operation. It provides the advantages of using low cost inserts rather than expensive cutter bodies. The focus is on optimizing the insert geometry. The main objective of the practice is to manage cutting forces for two advantages. Firstly, if the cutting force is directed toward the supporting seat than the edge, the toughness requirement of the insert is reduced considerably. It enables a harder, more wear resistant grade to withstand highly transitional exit loads at even higher material removal rate. Moreover, if cutting forces are controlled, cutting efficiency can


be optimized. It can also accommodate for the potential setup instabilities necessary for machining of four faces of prismatic parts in single loading. Secondly, when the transition from compressive to tensile forces in the insert is reduced, the tool life improves significantly.

Versatility has also been improved. An optimized design of an eight-sided face-milling insert can slot, plunge and do helical interpolation, in addition to regular face milling. The top edge is curved to make freer cutting at varying depths of cut and to act as a wiper for good surface finish. In one case, the integrated anvil is pressed in with shear plane to guard the cutter body against damage from fracturing inserts. The insert fractures down to the integrated anvil only.

Multipupose inserts are another preference of the users today. Sometimes, a single multipurpose insert replace four or five inserts required to turn some part. The same insert can deep-groove, Z- axis turn, face or ID-groove and ID bore.

Wiper insert in turning: In turning, the development of new wiper insert is a strategy for productivity improvement. Manufacturers claim to improve surface finish two times over standard inserts. Alternatively, the feed rate can be increased at least by 20% without sacrificing surface finish requirement. A finish turning operation or sometimes usual grinding may not be required. A wiper insert’s nose is slightly flattened. The geometry becomes a combination or a blend of radii. The edge of the insert essentially traces a path around the edge of two overlapping circles, leaving the tip with a slightly elliptical shape. The blended radii knock off the high points created by the feed lines and provide a smoother finish without increasing the nose radius or reducing the feed. Wiper inserts are basically high feed tools for using with light depth of cut. The manufacturers claim the wiper inserts last longer than conventional inserts, even though they were not designed for it.

New Shapes: New shapes of inserts are emerging that have more cutting edges on an insert. Hexagonal insert with 12 cutting edges and double-sided octagonal edges with sixteen cutting edges have come for face milling cast iron.

Intelligent insert: Very soon ‘smart’ cutting tools will be in use. The effort is to find a production method to install electronic sensors right on the cutting edge of an indexable insert. These smart tools will be able to talk to the machine and the total system to adjust speeds, compensate for heat and generally make the metal cutting process more efficient.

Ease of selection of first choice insert: But the major drive by almost all manufacturers is related to provide an easy and quick selection process for the ‘first choice” inserts. With new capabilities of computer-aided grade and groove design, an ever-expanding array of more specialized grades and grooves is getting replaced with rationalized core selections that provide good performance in majority of applications for the most commonly used work materials. With shorter lot size and very frequent change in part design, the profitability depends on minimizing the development time and the inventory of the tools. The emphasis is on performance optimization instead of simplification that may be very costly on long run. A good tool manufacturer can provide the best help.


Hole making constitutes the major percentage of machining operation on most of the parts, particularly


Latest Trends in Machining

so on prismatic ones using a number of machining processes. As per an estimate, drills produce more than 70 percent of the chips made within the metal working industry. Conventionally, a hole making requires multiple tools such as a center drill, a twist drill, a chamfering tool, a hollow milling cutter, and a reamer to achieve its required size accuracy . For some specific requirements, the number of steps may be more. L/D (length and diameter) ratio of the hole is also very important. Deeper hole presents more difficulty, particularly because of problem of chip ejection. Two clear approaches to improve hole-making process have evolved: in one, number of steps are reduced with the tool design, and in the second, the cutting parameters are increased. However, high speed causes problems such as chip packing, heat build-up, accelerated edge wear and thrust force, drill whipping, and poorer surface finish.

Twist drills still remain the most common tool. But, drilling is no more an initiating operation. The new development in drilling relates to:

Improved drill point geometry for better accuracy